Critics: Colorado oil inspectors caught off guard

Sept. 24, 2013 at 8:28 AM
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DENVER, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Colorado seems ill prepared to respond to flood damage inflicted on the state's oil and natural gas operations, an advocacy group said Tuesday.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said Monday it was tracking eight "notable" releases of oil from sites affected by heavy flooding in the state. More than a foot of rain fell on Colorado earlier this month in what the National Weather Service described as a "biblical" event.

Oil Change International, an advocacy group concerned about hydraulic fracturing, said the state has 17 full-time inspectors on hand to examine 50,000 oil and natural gas wells.

"As the floodwaters recede, these inspectors have so far only reached a third of the well sites," the group said in a statement. It suggested state inspectors were overwhelmed by the "scale of destruction" to the state's energy infrastructure.

Anadarko Petroleum, one of the companies reporting an oil release, said last week it had 20 people working on the issue from an emergency response center in Denver and more than 100 other workers in the field.

COGCC said it's been able to confirm releases totaling 641 barrels of oil

"All identified spills are required to be cleaned up, recognizing that contaminants of all kinds have been moved and dispersed with floodwaters," it said Monday. "These conditions will create challenges in certain cases with tying impacted areas to specific parties, but operators will be accountable for cleanup when appropriate and when possible."

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