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Oops, We Did It Again! Over 13,500 Gallons of Oil Spill Into Colorado Rivers

oil spill

There was the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill of April 2010 that leaked nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. A few months later in July, 877,000 gallons of bituminous sands oozed into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. Then in 2012, more than 6,000 spills and mishaps at onshore oil and gas sites were reported, according to E&E Energy Wire. And that’s not all folks—this year in March an ExxonMobil pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas spilled 5,000 to 7,000 barrels of heavy crude.

Now, it seems that history is repeating itself once again with new spills in Colorado. Over 13,500 gallons of oil have surged into Colorado rivers, which are already overfilling from the state’s recent floods.

According to the Associated Press via ABC News, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the second largest operator in Colorado, reported two spills Wednesday night from flood-damaged tanks. One spill occurred along the St. Vrain River that consisted of 323 barrels or 13,500 gallons of oil, and another happened on the South Platte River where 125 barrels or 5,250 gallons of oil sewed out.

Both spills involved condensate, a mixture of oil and water, and some has been swept away by floodwaters, said Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson Matthew Allen.

“We are actively working under the oversight of [governmental] agencies to contain and clean up the releases to the greatest extent possible,” said Anadarko in a statement.

According to the Associated Press, Anadarko workers have tried containing the South Platte spill by placing absorbent blooms over the water, but state officials said that only some residual oil has been collected.

Gary Wockner of Clean Water Action said in a statement that the spill “exemplifies the danger” of drilling and fracking in floodplains, reports EcoWatch.

Ross Lane of Western Values Project offered similar sentiments.

“This disaster is a clear indication that the Colorado oil and gas industry must do more to protect the public health of Coloradans. As our friends and neighbors pick up the pieces from this disaster, Anadarko must fulfill their responsibility to the people of Colorado,” said Lane.

These spills have occurred in one of the most densely drilled floodplain areas in the U.S., where oil companies are expected to invest $4 billion in new projects this year.

“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.”

The “only real impediment to growth” are environmentalists rallying for a ban on fracking? So it’s not because of all the hazards associated with oil and gas drilling growth, like these recent spills in Colorado whose environmental impacts have yet to be determined?

One oil spill is one too many, yet for some reason we still allow them to happen nearly every year. We possess the technologies that can begin replacing dirty and hazardous fossil fuels and it’s about time that we start embracing them. Do you really need (and can we afford) another spill to happen for us change our ways?

Image source: Wikipedia Commons

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