Sand Creek: Benzene laden flows from the Suncor refinery are still discharging into the surface water


From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment data — from samples taken by Suncor — showed benzene concentrations at 720 parts per billion on Jan. 9 at the point where Sand Creek meets the South Platte, up from 190 on Jan. 6, and 144 times higher than the 5 ppb national drinking-water standard. Benzene is a chemical found in crude oil that is classified as cancer-causing, especially affecting blood. Downriver on the South Platte, the data show benzene at 240 ppb on Jan. 9, a decrease from 590 on Jan. 6 but still 48 times higher than the standard…

Spilled contaminants from decades of refinery operations at the site have seeped underground, “and it is snaking through. The pressures change. It finds the path of least resistance, and that’s apparently what has happened: It has found the path of least resistance to get into Sand Creek,” Colorado health department environmental-programs director Martha Rudolph said in an interview last week…

Suncor officials Friday said blood tests were done on 675 employees and contractors. Suncor cannot comment on results, spokeswoman Lisha Burnett said. “Any retesting that may be required is handled between the individual and a doctor.” Refinery crews are excavating water pipelines and have not found any breaks or cracks, Burnett said. “One theory that we’re investigating is the permeation of hydrocarbons through plastic pipe.”

Suncor will build a large slurry wall made of claylike material along Sand Creek and collector trenches to protect waterways — as well as a trench system and wall on Suncor’s property to prevent the spread of hydrocarbons, she said.

More Sand Creek coverage here.

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