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Floods prompt oil and gas concerns

1:37 AM, Sep 17, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - Social media is swamped with suggestions that the news media is covering up an environmental disaster in northern Colorado.

Claims on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites suggest that fracking fluid and other chemicals are contaminating the environment as floods overtake oil and gas wells in Weld County.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association [COGA] says its members began shutting in wells Wednesday night, pausing production until the storm passed.

COGA pushed back on the claims about fracking.

"There's no fracking operations happening at this time," Tisha Schuller, COGA's President said. "In the 30 year life of a well, fracking occurs in less than a day on the well site. And so, to the best of our knowledge, there's no fracking going on - and no on site chemicals that have been affected by this incident."

"They're [COGA] full of it," Carl Erickson, with Weld Air & Water, said. "They're [COGA] saying what I would expect them to say: 'Don't worry. Be happy. Nothing's happening that's going to hurt you.'"

"Most of the photos that are circulating on social media were given to us without a location," Schuller said. "So we are asking any concerned citizens to send us pictures at info@coga.org with a location."

Schuller promises to provide each concerned citizen with a comprehensive response.

"We don't know what those tanks were," Schuller said. "We don't know if they were associated with oil and gas."

Erickson is convinced that some of the storage tanks seen do contain oil products.

"Once they start floating and leave their moorings, that stuff's going to get into the water," Erickson said. "The oil is the problem because it's stored in those tanks. And I don't know when the last time somebody emptied those was. That oil is going to go somewhere. Then we're going to end up with a huge environmental problem which we're going to share with everybody down river."

As flood waters recede, COGA plans to return to well sites for assessment.

"We'll be addressing anything that comes up," Schuller assured. "We're going to be here for the next week, the next month and the next decade."

Doug Flanders, COGA's Director of Policy, said that if there is a spill, the operator is required to report it to the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).

Flanders said that in the event of a spill, once COGA learns which chemicals are involved, it [COGA] will disclose that information to emergency workers.

9NEWS will keep an eye on the issue as the flood waters recede and damage is revealed.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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