Oil and Gas Industry Spills in Colorado
By Aaron Weiss
Oil and gas companies in Colorado reported more than 500 oil and gas-related spills that occurred in 2016, according to the Colorado Toxic Release Tracker released this week by the Center for Western Priorities. The new analysis, which summarizes public spills data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, finds that five companies accounted for nearly half of all spills.
“As oil and gas production ramps up once again in Colorado, it is critical that Coloradans understand the impacts of drilling,” said Jesse Prentice-Dunn, advocacy director at the Center for Western Priorities. “Data shows that nearly a third of all reported incidents occurred within 1,500 feet of an occupied building and that dozens impacted groundwater. While drilling for oil and natural gas will continue to be an important part of Colorado’s economy, these spills are another reminder of the risks associated with oil and gas development.”
The 2016 Toxic Release Tracker finds that the vast majority of spills reported, 82 percent, took place on private land and that nearly half of all reported spills took place in Weld County. Of the spills reported, 257 involved produced water, salty wastewater often laden with toxic chemicals, 115 spills involved oil and 60 involved condensate.
“Thankfully, Colorado has strong reporting requirements for oil and gas-related spills. Coloradans living in the oil patch deserve to know when, where, and why spills happen. Going forward it is critical that the state continue to provide the public with useful information on the impacts of oil and gas development” continued Prentice-Dunn.”