The recent rains along the Front Range caused wide-spread flooding on oil and gas fracking sites and the release of unknown quantities of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals.
On Sept. 17, Phil Doe, environmental director of Be the Change, with the assistance of many grassroots activists, wrote an article on this topic on EcoWatch.com. The article includes several photos and links to other websites (Frack City, USA, East Boulder County United and Weld Air and Water), with additional photos. As always, a picture is worth a thousand words.
In the pictures, we see condensate tanks displaced by flooding near Greeley and Kersey. According to Doe's article: "These tanks are used to store waste liquid from drilling operations...The toxicity of the liquids stored in these tanks is largely unknown because they have been exempted from federal environmental laws." Doe also states that the tanks, when full, contain between 12,000 and 20,000 gallons of liquid, and that the state of Colorado does not require these tanks be secured to the ground.
In the pictures we see these tanks floating in the water and lying on their sides. We see well sites almost completely covered with water. We see gas blowing out of a site into the water — the result of a line break.
Doe also states that on the eastern plains, open pits, rather than tanks, are used to store the fracked fluids and "may be widely flooded and disgorging their toxics into waterways."
Media estimates are that as many as 13,000 of the more than 20,000 wells in Weld County may have some degree of flood damage. On Thursday, Contaminated water has flowed along the Platte River drainage, out to the Nebraska line and to Lake Mcconaughy, the largest man-made lake in the state.
And according to the Denver Post, on Wednesday, Anadarko Petroleum reported that at least 5,250 gallons of crude oil have spilled from two tank batteries into the South Platte River south of Milliken.
The toxins from these well sites can potentially get into our water supplies, animals and our bodies, onto agricultural lands, and into our food. It's a frightening scenario.
This is another reason to support the efforts of people to pass referenda and ballot initiatives in Broomfield, Lafayette, Fort Collins and Boulder banning or putting moratoria on fracking in their communities. Do what you can to help in these efforts. Find out how by going to frackfreecolorado.com.
Also ask Governor Hickenlooper for a full investigation of the flooded sites at 303-866-2471 or colorado.gov/govhdir/.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" column runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.