Quantcast

Colorado Flooding Triggers More Oil and Gas Spills

Energy

Cliff Willmeng

The crisis for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) that last week’s floods created is now, thanks to community members and their cameras, set firmly onto the world stage. For the last seven days international media attention saw the immensity of the Weld County disaster, and those terrifying images of flood water colliding with oil and gas infrastructure are now the property of history.

Photo credit: Cliff Willmeng

The industry and state government will now engage in damage control, and attempt to reassure the public and investors that it is in command, and every effort is being made to assess, contain and mitigate the catastrophic damage. COGA spokeswoman, Tisha Schulller, is making daily statements to this effect, and Colorado’s Gov. Hickenlooper spent at least part of his day Saturday tweeting about the cantaloupe he was eating, confident that, “... the several small spills that we've had have been very small, relative to the huge flow of water."

Anadarko, a multinational petroleum corporation with annual revenue of more than $14 billion and the owner of some of the first major official spills into the South Platte River, volunteered $300,000 toward flood relief efforts. In the meantime, chemicals from leaking oil and gas wells continue to contaminate the environment of Weld County and beyond. Prior to even minimal environmental assessment, Canadian energy producer Encana Corp said Wednesday that 150 flooded wells due to flooding in Colorado had been returned to service, 245 remain shutdown.

Photo credit: Cliff Willmeng

After assessing roughly 30 percent of the impacted area, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) said in a statement, that 24 oil and gas storage tanks toppled in the flood bringing the total to more than 22,000 gallons of oil contaminating Colorado's South Platte River valley.

According to the statement:

COGCC is tracking five notable releases, with volume amounts confirmed for four of those. Those include releases of 323 barrels and 125 barrels from Anadarko locations. Two additional releases of 56 barrels at an Anadarko location and 21 barrels at a Bayswater Exploration and Production location have also been confirmed. Both of the latter two locations are along the South Platte River near Evans.

Those four releases represent about 22,000 gallons of oil. An additional release has been reported by Anadarko, but the volume is unknown at this time.

 

The COGCC’s aerial survey Thursday revealed as many as two dozen tanks overturned. Releases from these tanks have not been confirmed but are certainly a possibility. In addition we are tracking 11 locations with visible evidence of a release, such as a sheen. No estimates of product losses are available for those sites.

The industry that regularly pollutes our beautiful state will now expect the people of Weld County and Colorado to believe that it is a credible source of information. And while the people of Colorado wait for the industry and government to clean up this mess, five Colorado communities that are attempting to assert some degree of democratic control over oil and gas operations on the ballot this November, will continue to be harassed by industrial public relations groups and corporate law firms.

Photo credit: Cliff Willmeng

The COGA and COGCC have refused to drop their lawsuit against the people of Longmont for voting to ban fracking in 2012 and removing the gag order preventing medical professionals and first responders to disclose the composition of fracking fluids in the event of human contamination.

This is the direct result of the colonization of our lands by the oil and gas industry, and a government that acts as its political arm. But as the hydrocarbons drip into the soil, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shrugs its collective shoulders, and Colorado’s contaminated floodwaters carry into Nebraska and beyond.

Our communities will continue to fill in where government, and the gas and oil industry, leave human health and safety behind. The tragedy we are all a part of asks us to strengthen our resolve on every level. When it comes to the discussion of mineral rights versus public safety and democratic control, the reality of these floods will not escape the industry, the people of Colorado or Gov. Hickenlooper. Colorado will be changed by these enormous events, and it will be the incredible efforts of the people that will place us all on higher ground.

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The exact location of the prehistoric trees saved by firefighters has been kept a secret to protect them from contamination. NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment / CC BY 4.0

It looks as if firefighters in Australia have succeeded in saving a secret grove of prehistoric trees belonging to a species that dates back to the time of the dinosaurs.

Read More
The Boxberg Power Station in Germany, which burns lignite coal, on Oct. 13, 2019. Hans-Jörg von Schroeter / Flickr

Germany reached an agreement Thursday that will allow it to stop burning coal by 2038.

Read More
Sponsored
This photograph shows green photosynthetic cyanobacteria growing and mineralizing in the sand-hydrogel framework. The living material has similar strength to cement-base mortar. College of Engineering and Applied Science at Colorado University Boulder / EurekAlert!

Cement is a remarkable building material; it's cheap, durable and readily available. However, its production is a leading source of carbon dioxide emissions, coughing up 2.8 gigatons of emissions every year, as Advanced Science News reported.

Read More
Five members of Climate Direct Action are seen before a coordinated effort to turn off valves on a pipeline in four states. Shut it Down - Climate Direct Action

Internal documents from the Department of Homeland Security reveal that non-violent demonstrators targeting the oil industry were classified as "extremists," with some organization members listed alongside known white supremacists, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
Dan Gold / Unsplash

An additional 2,100 deaths from fatal injuries may occur in the U.S. every year from a 2 C rise in temperatures, which could have grave implications for global changes associated with the climate crisis.

Read More