Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chemical Alert: CO Flooded oil and gas wells spark fears ofcontamination in #Fracking Operations/Tank Spills oil into Platte River| Reuters/Denver Post

Update 21.09.2013:

Biological Alert: 
Tap water has been turned off for Lyons, a town of about 2,000 people located some 17 miles north of Boulder that was decimated by the floods, after tests showed the bacteria Escherichia coli, better known as #E.coli
While most E. coli strains are harmless and live in healthy humans and animals’ intestines, the bacteria can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and other illness when passed through contaminated water or food, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There has been a breach, and we don’t want you using any of the water,” Lyons town administrator Victoria Simonsen said at a public meeting Thursday. “… It’s critical we get that back up and get it disinfected before we would … want any of you to be back.”

As Flood Waters recede in Colorado, concerns are mounting over the containment from the damage to hundreds of oil & gas #Fracking operations especially in Weld county.

Be aware that many storage tanks have been overrun or toppled by raging flood waters.

Be Alert for drinking water contamination...

Stay Vigilant.

Stay Informed.

Update 20.09.2013:

13,500 gallons of oil spilled along St. Vrain River; 5,250 spilled in South Platte

10 different sites in Colorado being tracked


Colorado Flooding Triggers Oil Spills, Shutdowns

Colorado's flooding shut down hundreds of natural gas and oil wells in the state's main petroleum-producing region and triggered at least two spills, temporarily suspending a multibillion-dollar drilling frenzy and sending inspectors into the field to gauge the extent of pollution.
Besides the possible environmental impact, flood damage to roads, railroads and other infrastructure will affect the region's energy production for months to come. And analysts warn that images of flooded wellheads from the booming Wattenberg Field will increase public pressure to impose restrictions on drilling techniques such as fracking.

"There's been massive amounts of growth in the last two years, and it's certainly expected to continue," Caitlyn McCrimmon, a senior research associate for Calgary-based energy consultant ITG Investment Research, said of Colorado oil and gas drilling. "The only real impediment to growth in this area would be if this gives enough ammunition to environmentalists to rally support for fracking bans, which they had started working on before this."
Two spills were reported by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. — 323 barrels (13,500 gallons) along the St. Vrain River near Platteville, and 125 barrels (5,250 gallons) into the South Platte River near Milliken, federal and state regulators said. The St. Vrain feeds into the South Platte, which flows across Colorado's plains and into Nebraska.
In both cases, the oil apparently was swept away by floodwaters. Both releases involved condensate, a mixture of oil and water, Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Matthew Allen said.
The environmental damage still was being assessed, but officials in Weld County, where the spills took place, said the oil was among a host of contaminants caught up in floodwaters washing through communities along the Rocky Mountain foothills. County spokeswoman Jennifer Finch said the major concern there is raw sewage.

5,250 gallons of oil spills into South Platte River...

Damaged tank spills oil into flood-swollen river in Colorado

Weld County

An oil storage tank on a well pad lies toppled by floodwaters in Weld County. Environmental activists have raised concerns about leaks of gas, oil and hazardous materials from compromised infrastructure.
Rick Wilking/Reuters

DENVER | Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:01am EDT
(Reuters) - A damaged storage tank owned by energy company Anadarko Petroleum Corp. has spilled an estimated 125 barrels of oil into the flood-swollen South Platte River in north-central Colorado, the state oil and gas commission said on Wednesday.

The statement provided few details of the spill beyond saying that the mishap occurred near the town of Milliken north of the confluence of the St. Vrain and South Platte rivers, and that Anadarko was responding by deploying absorbent booms on the river.
Todd Hartman, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the parent agency of the state oil and gas commission, said the substance released into the river was "condensate," a very light form of petroleum.
He said the spill was reported to the commission on Wednesday, but he was not sure when it occurred, and he had no additional information about it.
The incident marked "the first sizable report that we've been made aware of" regarding oil spills stemming from the extensive flooding in Colorado unleashed by a week of torrential downpours along the eastern slopes of the Rockies, Hartman said.
Separately, the Denver-based Kerr-McGee Oil and Gas Onshore company, a unit of Anadarko, reported on Tuesday the spill of an unknown volume of condensate into the South Platte on Tuesday from a 300-barrel-capacity storage tank.
Hartman said he was unaware of that incident, which was reported to the interagency National Response Center for oil and chemical spills as having been discovered on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear whether the two reports were related.
Anadarko revealed little additional information in a statement issued late Wednesday, saying, "To date we are aware of two tank batteries that were damaged by floodwaters and have associated light-oil releases."

Flooded oil and gas wells spark fears of contamination in Colorado

"It's the most heavily drilled county in the U.S., and it's seeing some of the worst flooding. Oil and gas and chemicals associated with drilling are going to be spread across a wide swath of landscape."

Activists say ruptured pipelines, gas leaks and oil spills in flood-stricken Weld County put environment at risk

As Colorado reels from a prolonged flooding disaster that has killed at least eight people and left hundreds unaccounted for, environmental groups warn of potential contamination by ruptured oil and gas industry infrastructure.
In Weld County, an area northwest of Denver and Boulder, which has seen some of the worst of the rains, activists point to photos of destroyed wells, tanks and pipelines posted on social media sites. They claim that years of “fracking” -- the process of drilling for shale gas through hydraulic fracturing -- has made the area vulnerable to contamination in the event of flooding.
"Weld County, where the South Platte River has been flooding uncontrollably, has almost 20,000 active oil and gas wells," Gary Wockner, Colorado program director for Clean Water Action, told Al Jazeera.
"It's the most heavily drilled county in the U.S., and it's seeing some of the worst flooding," he said. "Oil and gas and chemicals associated with drilling are going to be spread across a wide swath of landscape."
Renewed fears of pollutants escaping into the environment resulted from the latest floods, which began last Wednesday, triggered by unusually heavy late-summer storms that drenched the northeastern part of Colorado. Along with Weld, the counties of Boulder, Adams, Jefferson and Larimer have been the worst hit.
There are hundreds of active oil and gas wells built in the South Platte River floodplains alone that are at risk of contaminating the floodwaters. Already there have been reports of a ruptured natural gas pipeline and overflowing crude-oil wells. By Wednesday evening, the Denver Post was reporting that crews had placed absorbent beams into the South Platte River south of the town of Milliken, where it said 5,250 gallons of oil had spilled into the river.
Ahead of that news, industry representatives had attempted to downplay any risk, suggesting that the pictures of broken pipes and underwater wells amount to a “social media frenzy.”
Tisha Schuller, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, testified before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regarding the industry's response to the historic floods, which have forced the evacuation of more than 10,000 people.
"All impacted wells have been shut in, which means the well has been closed off or shut and is not producing any oil and gas product," Schuller said in a release.
Schuller also responded to controversial photos that Colorado residents have uploaded to social media sites showing floating tanks, blowouts and flooded infrastructure.
"We have seen the social media frenzy regarding pictures of oil and gas facilities 'under water,'" she added. "While the pictures seem extraordinary, there is no data or specifics provided."
The photos and videos have not been independently verified by Al Jazeera.
Wockner, meanwhile, said he had seen "a number of photos online that show wells underwater and big tanks either floating or toppled," and that the risk of contamination is real.
"These containers have pipes attached to them and can hold 5,000 gallons or more," he said. "If the tank is floating and tilted, then the pipes are probably breaking off."
Possible contaminants from fracking include toxic chemicals, including cancer-causing benzene, activists point out.

Risk of contamination

Meanwhile, oil and gas companies have been keen to stress the measures they have brought in to make their pipes and wells safe.
Colorado Interstate Gas Co. declared force majeure -- an event that is the result of elements of nature -- on two of its pipelines in an online statement on Sept. 16.
Pipelines became unusable after exposure to "erosion and scouring caused by heavy flooding in the area," according to the statement.
Most industry companies with infrastructure in the affected areas have made statements saying they had "shut in" wells and pipelines before the worst of the flooding began, but they admit it will not be possible to fully assess the damage until the waters have receded.
Anadarko, an oil and natural-gas exploration and production company, said in a press releaseon Sept. 17 that it had shut in about 670 of its 5,800 wells and about 20 miles of its more than 3,200-mile pipeline.
PDC Energy, meanwhile, said in an online statement that it had suspended production from a "limited number of wells … beginning last Friday due to wide-spread flooding and extensive road closures in Weld County."
Denver-based Xcel Energy said that approximately 50 to 60 feet of a natural gas pipeline was exposed in Boulder County and that crews were at the site to stabilize and support the line.
Gabriel Romero of Xcel media relations told Al Jazeera that thousands of customers were without power after the company shut in wells and pipelines ahead of the worst of the flooding in affected areas.
Romero said that the process of reintroducing natural gas to the lines will be a long one.
"Every inch of the lines must be checked for leaks," he said. "There isn't just a central switch we can turn on … Crews must be sent out to each home to make sure it's safe to reintroduce gas."
But critics say all oil and gas wells in the floodplains should have been shut down before disaster struck, or that they never should have been constructed on floodplains in the first place.
Prior to the flooding, 158 of the state's 309 spills were in Weld County alone in 2013, according to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission records.
"There are very weak regulations in Colorado around drilling and fracking and having oil and gas operations in floodplains and around rivers," Wockner said. "Every year in Colorado there are a few hundred spills, when oil and gas and fracking chemicals are spilled onto the ground and into waterways."
Mark Salley, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, was unable to provide new information about the reported leaks or the risk of contamination from the hundreds of wells in the floodplains.
"I haven't heard that information, and I'm not going to speculate on those risks," Salley told Al Jazeera. "What I can tell you is that we have sent out advisories … about sewage treatment systems that have broken." 

5,250 gallons of oil spills into South Platte River

By Bruce Finley and Ryan Parker
The Denver Post

Posted:   09/18/2013 06:49:13 PM MD

U.S.34 outside Greeley ripped apart by the South Platte River.
U.S.34 outside Greeley ripped apart by the South Platte River. (Tim Rasmussen, The Denver Post)
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