MILLIKEN, Colo. — The initial fears of residents, concerned about toxic pollution from thousands of flooded oil and gas wells across the northern Front Range, continue to be confirmed.
After Wednesday’s report that a damaged oil tank had dumped more than 5,000 gallons into the S. Platte River south of Milliken, Noble Energy Thursday reported that it has found three wells that are leaking natural gas. Later, the corporation reported that another tank has released 13,566 gallons more.
In total, the state is tracking 10 oil and gas spills related to the flood, officials said.
Two wells were shut on Wednesday, but a third that appeared to be leaking a “limited” amount of gas couldn’t be accessed for shutdown, according to the company.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. reported the tank that’s leaked 5,250 gallons of crude oil to the state’s Department of Natural Resources, which is a required by law, on Wednesday.
“A release of oil into our rivers is of course enormously troubling,” Conservation Colorado’s Pete Maysmith told FOX31 Denver on Thursday. “There’s the concern for fish and wildlife, not to mention the possible impact on our drinking water.”
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) says Anadarko is responding and has oil-absorbing booms in the water at a location south of Milliken and north of the confluence of the St. Vrain and S. Platte rivers.
The COGCC along with the Colorado Health Department is monitoring the cleanup of the 5,250 gallons of oil.
“I expect, as flood waters recede, we’re going to see more of these kind of incidents, but they’re on a scale that can be managed,” said Tisha Schuler, the CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, who noted that there are millions of gallons of raw sewage in the flood waters, compared to some reported 19,000 gallons of oil.
“On a scale of the kind of flooding we’re talking about, these are relatively minor impacts,” she said. “That said, they’re still important. And we will respond and clean them up immediately.”
Residents across the northern Front Range have been concerned about possible pollution from oil and gas wells, with much of the Denver-Julesberg basin under water.
“We probably shouldn’t have had the oil and gas development in a flood plain to begin with,” said Carl Erickson, with the group Weld County Air and Water. “That would have been the prudent thing.
“But, it’s done now. Now we have deal with the result of having made that decision.”