Thursday, July 3, 2014

National Response Center and Four other Agencies Contacted for Massive Fracking Industry Oil Spill in National Heritage River in Colorado. UPDATE

On June 20th 2014 Colorado's Cache La Poudre River, (sometimes called the Poudre River or the Poudre), was reportedly contaminated by more than 7,500 gallons of crude oil, produced waters, and other fracking industry chemicals from a well-pad that had been impacted by excessive snow-melt runoff.

Agencies involved: 

Date Agency/Party Contact Phone Response
6/20/2014 NRC - Verbally communicated spill
6/20/2014 COGCC Rick Allison - Verbally communicated spill
6/20/2014 CDPHE - Verbally Communicated spill
6/20/2014 Noble Land Dept Landowner -
6/20/2014 Weld Co - Left message detailing spill

The Poudre’s  headwaters are in the Front Range in Larimer County, in the northern part of Rocky Mountain National Park. The river descends eastward in the mountains through the Roosevelt National Forest in Poudre Canyon. It emerges from the foothills north of the city of Fort Collins. It flows eastward across the plains, passing north of the city of Greeley, and flows into the South Platte River approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Greeley. [1]

The Cache La Poudre river corridor is the only Colorado river that boasts a naturally self-sustaining wild trout population, and is listed as a National Heritage Area  that includes the 100-year flood plain of the river from its emergence from the mountains to its confluence with the South Platte River.[2]

According to a ‘form 19/spill incident report’ document obtained from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s, (COGCC) the following was officially reported: ‘On May 24, 2014, in anticipation of potential flooding due to heavy precipiation and snow melt, Noble Energy shut in oil and gas wells State M36-3, M36-5,6-36,7-36, and 8-36. Flooding and field conditions impeded safe access to the wells until June 20, 2014. Immediately upon access to the tank battery unit associated with the above mentioned oil and gas wells, evidence of an unintentional release resulting from flood-releated impacts was observed. Available information indicates a loss of 173 BBLS of condensate. The cause of the unintentional release is believed to be a break in the produced water valve on the back of the condensate storage tank. Noble called a vacuum truck to the location to vacuum up pooling water as well as any remaining fluids in both the affected and nonaffected storage tank. A third party environmental emergency response consultant was called immediatley following the discovery of the unintentional release to assess the location and deploy clean up measures.’

Thanks to EcoFlight's Bruce Gorden and team member; Dom Smith, fractivist team members: Lee Buchsbaum, Chelsea Richer and I were able to film, photograph and narrate the affected area and capture on-the-ground operations by Noble Energy and the State. Video below by EcoFlight.

click images to enlarge

Investigative questions:

1.) Why was this well-pad 'not' listed as impacted from last years flood when all of the other well-pads in the area were?

2.) The industry and the State of Colorado have listed this incident as being caused by increased temperatures and heavy snow-melt runoff. Are they admitting our climate has changed?

3.) This well-pad documentation  indicates that the damaged condensate tanks 'were, in-fact' anchored down, using approved COGCC methods. This incident appears to illustrate that the anchors that fasten the tanks down are inadequate to prevent adverse impacts and the COGCC should immediately respond to their inadequate regulatory protocols for anchoring.

4.) Should this well-pad should be immediately plugged and abandoned? Yes, all fracking industry well-pads should be prohibited in a flood plain. Period.

5.) Will Noble Energy be fined for this environmental catastrophe?  Me thinks not...

Stay tuned for ongoing updates on this environmental catastrophe. We have very unique information we will be releasing shortly.

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Thank you

Shane Davis
Chelsea Richer 
Lee Buchsbaum


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