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18,000 gallons of oil spill into Colorado waters

4:29 PM, Sep 19, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - As the floodwaters recede, the number of gallons of oil spilled into Colorado waters is rising.

The Colorado Oil & Gas Association is trying to explain how more than 18,000 gallons of oil spilled into Colorado waters this week.

The first two major incidents involving the extensive network of oil and gas wells in the flooded areas occurred in the South Platte River and the St. Vrain River. 


On Wednesday, energy operator Anadarko Petroleum identified a tank that released "condensate," which is a mixture of light oil and water, into the South Platte River near Milliken.

According to COGA, a flow-line pipe used to carry condensate between equipment and the storage tank was compromised by silt and debris that broke the line between tanks. Anadarko Petroleum pumped the remaining condensate from the storage tank and put absorbent booms into the water.

Another Anadarko tank released more than 13,000 gallons of oil into the St. Vrain River in Firestone. COGA says it was also due to a compromised pipe.

According to Doug Flanders, COGA's Director of Policy, the spills were immediately reported to the National Response Center, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and Weld County Local Emergency Planning Committee. He said containment and clean-up efforts were immediately initiated, with oversight from the EPA, COGCC and CDPHE.

Flanders says fracturing fluid additives were not released into the rivers.

"These chemicals are not stored on producing well sites," Flanders said.

However, a certain portion of the population is skeptical of COGA's claims and sees the oil and gas industry as liars.

COGA's President and CEO Tisha Schuller responded to those critics by saying, "I think that there's a lot of people that do not take into consideration how completely interdependent we are with oil and gas resources. And so vilifying an industry that provides those resources we all use, and we all need, and that we're extremely dependent on, is a way to go through life. But perhaps a more constructive way would be for us to join together and work on the flood response."

At least eight other minor oil spills have been reported throughout the state. Six teams from the state are also doing their own inspection of the wells. The industry estimates that only about 10 percent of the wells in the worst hit areas have yet to be assessed.

"We know there will be minor incidents that will need to be addressed due to the unprecedented nature of this natural disaster," Flanders said.

It's important to note that flood waters are polluted well before they reach the oil fields. Some pollutants include raw sewage, gasoline, insecticide and household chemicals.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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