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Colorado Flooding Highlights the Role of Spill Planning in Oil and Gas Extraction

December 2, 2013

Oil and gas drilling operations came under public scrutiny during the September flooding in Colorado. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) reports that, according to its most recent reckoning (Nov. 26), the flooding caused spills of 1,149 barrels of oil or natural-gas condensate (48,250 gallons) and 1,035 barrels of produced water (43,479 gallons). The largest spill at any one site was 323 barrels.

Colin Harris, environmental attorney with Boulder, Colo., law firm Bryan Cave, has worked with oil and gas firms in developing spill prevention and control plans. He told Green & Clean Journal that “while unfortunate, the fact that oil spills occurred during the one-hundred year flooding is not surprising, nor does it demonstrate a lack of reasonable planning and prevention. The important question is that, of the barrels spilled, how much actually impacted the environment outside the immediate well facility, what was the nature and severity of the impact, and what has been the response of industry to remediate and mitigate for any impacts.” Read More