Colorado Oil Spills Hearing Called For By Rep. Jared Polis, Following Flooding

In this Sept. 17, 2013 photo, a crude oil storage tank lies on its side in flood water along the South Platte River, in Weld
In this Sept. 17, 2013 photo, a crude oil storage tank lies on its side in flood water along the South Platte River, in Weld County, Colo. Hundreds of natural gas and oil wells along with pipelines are shut down by flooding, as state and federal inspectors gauge the damage and look for potential contamination from inundated oil fields. (AP Photo/John Wark)

As more oil spills were discovered this week in Colorado following devastating flooding that inundated drill sites in the state, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) is calling on the House Resources Committee for a hearing on the leaks caused by the floodwaters.

“Not only have my constituents been dealing with damage to their homes, schools, and roads, they are increasingly concerned about the toxic spills that have occurred from the flooding of nearly 1,900 fracking wells in Colorado,” Polis wrote in a letter to Resource Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, KDVR reported. “Congress must deal with this issue to ensure that natural disasters do not also become public health disasters.”

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission announced Thursday that there are 12 oil and gas releases classified as "notable," which was unchanged from Wednesday, the first time this week that COGCC has not found an increase in spills from day to day.

There are 14 sites with evidence of a "minor release" and 60 sites with visible damage to storage tanks but no identified release.

A total of 890 barrels of oil -- or 37,380 gallons -- have been released in Colorado in the wake of the catastrophic flooding that resulted in the deaths of at least eight and over $2 billion in property damage.

The volume of oil released due to flooding, although growing, remains small by oil and gas industry standards. "In the context of this historic event, these spills are not an unexpected part of many other sources of contamination associated with the flood," the COGCC wrote in a statement. "Those include very large volumes (millions of gallons) of raw, municipal sewage and other hazards associated with households, agriculture, business and industry."

The COGCC reported that it has five teams in the field Friday and has covered roughly 70 percent of the flood-impacted area. Through Wednesday, teams have inspected 736 well locations.

Approximately 1,300 wells remain shut down -- down from 1,900 at the peak -- out of more than 51,000 operating in Colorado.



Colorado's Historic Flooding