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
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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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