Sand Creek: The Environmental Protection Agency has taken over at the spill site near Commerce City

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Here’s an in-depth report about the spill and cleanup efforts from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. Click through and read the whole thing, check out the cool video and photo slide show. Here’s an excerpt:

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials have known about hazardous leakages in the area for at least a month, documents show. And for a week, toxic vapors at the nearby Metro Wastewater Reclamation District facility have forced workers to wear respirators. But nobody checked the rivers or tried to stop the seepage. Damage remains unassessed.

Suncor Energy cleanup crews slogged through the muck and used vacuum trucks Tuesday to remove surface material caught in booms strung across Sand Creek northwest of the company’s oil refinery. Late Tuesday, they began digging a trench to try to catch the muck as it leaks out of the bank of Sand Creek.

“We want to keep that out of the river — protect the river,” said Curtis Kimbel, the Environmental Protection Agency’s on-scene coordinator.

Lab tests of water and soil samples taken late Monday and early Tuesday have not been completed, and the source remained a mystery in an industrial area where refineries have existed since 1938. “But based on the odor and the sheen, we don’t want it to go in the river,” Kimbel said.

More coverage from 9News.com (Jeffrey Wolf/Brandon Rittiman/Kyle Clark):

State officials say the refinery suspected of leaking the possibly hazardous liquids into Sand Creek has been under a corrective order for several decades because of contaminated groundwater. Colorado health department spokesman Warren Smith says the state has been monitoring contaminated plumes from the Suncor Energy refinery and he says it’s likely the source of an oily liquid that has been seeping into the creek about a mile from the refinery…

“We don’t how much went downstream. We do know now that it is contained,” Karen Edson with the EPA said. The EPA says the amount that went downstream isn’t enough to cause major alarm, but it’s still worth taking precautions around the South Platte near Commerce City…

“There’s a good possibility the material could be from us. We don’t know for sure. But we’re not gonna mess around with that. We’re going to take responsibility. The environment needs to be protected,” John Gallagher with Suncor said.

More water pollution coverage here.

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