CREDIT: AP Photo/John Wark
After historic floods ravaged Colorado late last week, the state is now facing serious long-term consequences. The Denver Post reported on Wednesday evening that at least 5,250 gallons of crude oil spilled from two tank batteries into the South Platte River. Anadarko Petroleum, the second-largest operator in the region, is working with local officials to contain the spill, but authorities are unsure when the spill occurred or exactly how much crude leached into the river.
The incident is the first to confirm the fears of many Coloradans that the state’s flooded oil and gas infrastructure is a major environmental catastrophe waiting to happen. As Think Progress reported on Tuesday, the floods hit one of the most densely drilled areas in the U.S. and residents have expressed serious concern “that unknown amount of chemicals has leaked out and possibly contaminated waters, mixing fracking fluids and oil along with sewage, gasoline, and agriculture pesticides.”
While the extent of the damage — and potential spills — remains largely unknown, initial reports indicate the Anadarko spill could be the first of many. According to the Denver Post, “Weld County authorities on Saturday said at least one oil and gas industry pipeline had broken and was leaking into the South Platte … [and] they said at least two other pipelines were compromised as they sagged in flood-saturated soils.”
The Denver Post reported on Thursday that Colorado officials are now tracking ten different oil and gas releases in flood zones across the state, including a 13,500 gallon spill into the St. Vrain River.