Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

These 19 organizations and individuals represent a small portion of the efforts underway to fight racism and inequality and to build stronger Black communities and food systems. rez-art / Getty Images

By Danielle Nierenberg

Following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, people around the United States are protesting racism, police brutality, inequality, and violence in their own communities. No matter your political affiliation, the violence by multiple police departments in this country is unacceptable.

Read More Show Less
Residents plant mangroves on the coast of West Aceh District in Indonesia on Feb. 21, 2020. Mangroves play a crucial role in stabilizing the coastline, providing protection from storms, waves and tidal erosion. Dekyon Eon / Opn Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.

Read More Show Less
UN World Oceans Day is usually an invite-only affair at the UN headquarters in New York, but this year anyone can join in by following the live stream on the UNWOD website from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. https://unworldoceansday.org/

Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?

Read More Show Less
Cryptococcus yeasts (pictured), including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas

From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.

Read More Show Less
National Trails Day 2020 is now titled In Solidarity, AHS Suspends Promotion of National Trails Day 2020. The American Hiking Society is seeking to amplify Black voices in the outdoor community and advocate for equal access to the outdoors. Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images

This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.

Read More Show Less
Indigenous people from the Parque das Tribos community mourn the death of Chief Messias of the Kokama tribe from Covid-19, in Manaus, Brazil, on May 14, 2020. MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP / Getty Images

By John Letzing

This past Wednesday, when some previously hard-hit countries were able to register daily COVID-19 infections in the single digits, the Navajo Nation – a 71,000 square-kilometer (27,000-square-mile) expanse of the western US – reported 54 new cases of what's referred to locally as "Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19."

Read More Show Less

Trending

World Environment Day was put into motion almost fifty years ago by the United Nations as a response to a multitude of environmental threats. RicardoImagen / Getty Images

It's a different kind of World Environment Day this year. In prior years, it might have been enough to plant a tree, spend some extra time in the garden, or teach kids the importance of recycling. This year we have heavier tasks at hand. It's been months since we've been able to spend sufficient time outside, and as we lustfully watch the beauty of a new spring through our kitchen's glass windows, we have to decide how we'll interact with the natural world on our release, and how we can prevent, or be equipped to handle, future threats against our wellbeing.

Read More Show Less