Colorado: 350 oil and gas spills in less than two years; benzene found in groundwater; fines are almost non-existent
There is an extremely important, and disturbing, story in the Denver Post today.
A Post investigation found that four oil and natural gas companies have been responsible for 350 spills in Colorado since January, 2010.
Just this summer, one company had three spills in Weld county alone that included highly toxic substances. Benzene, a known carcinogen, was confirmed to be found in groundwater.
In Colorado, about eight wells are being drilled each day. But The Post found that:
- spills are happening at the rate of seven per week.
- so far in 2011, more than 2 million gallons have been spilled of diesel, oil, drilling wastewater and chemicals.
- state regulators rarely penalize companies responsible for spills — issuing only five fines for spills that happened three or more years ago. What’s more, state regulators have commended these companies for environmental excellence.