Colorado’s richest oil field buried in flood waters, 1,000s of wells and sites affected — Official: “Scale is unprecedented… We will have to deal with environmental contamination” — Chemist: “It’s new territory” — Scientist: “Major public health risks” from contaminated water, sediment (PHOTOS)

Published: September 17th, 2013 at 1:30 am ET


The Denver Post, Sept. 16, 2013 (h/t Anonymous tip): Colorado’s richest oil field — the Denver-Julesburg Basin — is buried in flood waters raising operational and environmental concerns […] Thousands of wells and operating sites have been impacted […] “The scale is unprecedented,” said Mike King, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “We will have to deal with environmental contamination from whatever source.” The basin, one of the most promising onshore oil plays […] The major public health risks will come from contaminated water and sediments, said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, a Natural Resources Defense Council staff scientist. […] There are more than 20,000 wells in the DJ-Basin and surrounding areas and 3,200 permits for open pits in Weld County, according to state data. […]

Irene Fortune, retired chemist who worked for British Petroleum now running Loveland City Council: “With the Texas gulf coast, they know in advance a hurricane is coming. To have something this inland, this level of flooding in an area with high oil and gas development, it’s new territory.”

Reuters, Sept. 16, 2013: The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said it was working with health authorities to assess environmental impacts. […] Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said 21 inches (53 cm) of rain fell in parts of Boulder city, northwest of Denver, during the week-long deluge, nearly double the area’s average annual rainfall.

See hundreds of photos of the devastation here

Published: September 17th, 2013 at 1:30 am ET


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12 comments to Colorado’s richest oil field buried in flood waters, 1,000s of wells and sites affected — Official: “Scale is unprecedented… We will have to deal with environmental contamination” — Chemist: “It’s new territory” — Scientist: “Major public health risks” from contaminated water, sediment (PHOTOS)

  • Jebus Jebus

    It's ironic how these disasters are set up and nature takes them down, not without prior warning though…

    1965 Flood disasters in Colorado

    Colorado's Niobrara oil play not a flash in the pan – Apr 15, 2013

    The two biggest oil and gas companies working in Colorado’s Niobrara oil play could be drilling new wells nearly 20 years from now, based on the number of locations they’ve identified and the number of wells they plan to drill every year.

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    That's ugly and they have no water…

  • bo bo

    Is it being reported on mainstream news other than local news and reuters ?

  • enoughalready45 enoughalready45

    Imagine with me if you will the news of the future….

    "Windmill fields flooded, save town by doubling as floodplain, windmills still running."

    When will we ever learn?

  • End of the Road

    While 21 inches of rain in a few days is disastrous, I quibble with the statement that it is "nearly double the area's average annual rainfall." Boulder averages around 18-20 inches of rain per year. A minor point, perhaps, considering the scale of the damage, but still…

  • Sol Man

    The farmers and ranchers aren't singing the praises of the great good that it has been for them to let the industry do their thing on the land now, not for the few to several thousand dollars that they received. It is one big terrible polluted mess! Got a glass of clean water for your kids?

  • ftlt

    Sorry, but this article leaves one with the impression that the only pollution going on is due to the flood…

    And that otherwise everything is honky-dory everywhere with fracking and oil extraction..

    Energy is a political issue..

    We must stop the Empire before they kill everything on the planet and us along with it…

    • MoonlightEmpire MoonlightEmpire

      Agreed. They always blame the natural event for causing the catastophe, but that thinking is completely backwards. What many people fail to realize, is that if this had happened during a time period either before Human settlement of the area, or just before any commercial/industrial things went in (before 1880 or so), this flood would have been a titanic enrichment to the entire midwestern region. This water would have carried with it nutrients for a thousand years…it would have resulted in a golden age, of sorts, for all biota in the region (and all the way down to the gulf and Mexico).

      Now, solely because of commercial/industrial/chemical activities, this same flood carries with it a thousand years worth of poison. Yes, the nutrients are still there, but they are all tainted…mixed inseperably with toxins/polutants of every human source imaginable.

      The companies/corporations must be stopped first, but each and every living person needs to make a choice, now, because we are all guilty. We have all supported these companies by purchasing their products/services. The time is getting very short for those who plan to claim that they didn't know…or weren't informed.

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    .. 🙂 Yes its all about choices!

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    Planning to build a new home? Pick a hill to build it on. 21" of rain within 24 hours will flood every flatland home. Period. This is happening everywhere, folks. 😉

    Ponds with fracking fluid were flooded, spreading fracking fluid across the landscape. Perhaps we will now learn for certain what's in fracking fluid. Crops, fields, playgrounds, and yards in Colorado will now contain fracking fluid, which will not ever be cleaned up.

  • Sol Man

    What is the level of toxicity that the multi-state area and on to the Missippi River and the GOM is being forced to absorb? Think it can never be retrieved.