Information on damages from Colorado’s massive flood last week continues to come in. The flood, caused by all-time high levels of rain for both one day and one week, covered over 4,500 square miles of Colorado – an area roughly the size of Connecticut.
Among the greatest safety concerns for Colorado residents at this time is contaminated floodwater. According to sources, thousands of gallons of crude oil and toxic sewage waste have spilled into the floodwaters.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. is dealing with two separate 5,000+ gallon oil spills at this time. In Weld County, a flood-damaged oil tank has released 5,250 gallons of oil into the South Platte River. Meanwhile in Platteville, 13,500 gallons of Anadarko have spilled into the St. Vrain River. Anadarko has responded to the spills by placing oil-absorbent booms in the water and shutting down operations in area of the state affected by the flood.
Over 1,900 oil and gas wells in the state have been shut down due to high water concerns. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association reports that over 600 industry personnel are inspecting and repairing sites at this time. Colorado produced 135,000 barrels of oil a day in 2012, which is the highest total for the state in over three decades.
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But oil isn’t the only thing contaminating the water. Jennifer Finch, a spokesperson with Weld County, says sewage and agricultural runoff is in the water as well.
"There's a lot of stuff in that water. What we’re primarily worried about is the sewage and the [agricultural] runoff -- fertilizer stuff from people’s lawns, to manure from the dairy farms,” Finch said.
Colorado health officials have warned people to stay out of the water if at all possible.