Sand Creek: ‘The deadline to meet drinking-water standards…is a very aggressive and challenging goal’ — Lisha Burnett (Suncor)

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Suncor had proposed that Metro Wastewater help handle the cleanup. Metro declined. “Petroleum-contaminated groundwater is not what the wastewater-treatment facility is designed for,” Metro Wastewater Reclamation District operations director Steven Rogowski said. “It isn’t our ratepayers’ responsibility to treat Suncor’s water.”[…]

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regulators have set a May deadline for cleanup of all contaminated groundwater flowing from Suncor’s 300-acre refinery property…

The machinery set up by Suncor contractors, at a cost of $1 million, sits on Metro property along the river. Later this month, it will be ready to remove benzene and other toxic material as soon as it is detected in monitoring wells near Metro’s construction site. A permit issued by state regulators lets Suncor discharge 3,000 gallons per minute of treated groundwater pumped from Metro Wastewater property into either Sand Creek or the South Platte…

By May, Suncor must prove that groundwater migrating off Suncor’s property meets a state standard requiring the concentration of cancer-causing benzene to be below 5 parts per billion. That’s the federal health standard for drinking water. “The deadline to meet drinking-water standards next year is a very aggressive and challenging goal, and it is not certain that it can be achieved in this timeframe,” Suncor spokeswoman Lisha Burnett said Friday in an e-mailed response to queries. Suncor already has installed underground clay walls at the northern and western edges of its property — designed to hold back the thickest undissolved petroleum.

“Monitoring does not suggest that undissolved contaminants are escaping any longer,” CDPHE spokesman Mark Salley said…

The latest data show benzene also is still entering Sand Creek and the South Platte — with the concentration at 145 ppb this month in the river just below the confluence. That’s less than the benzene levels averaging above 200 ppb earlier in the year but still is 29 times higher than the 5 ppb federal health standard. Three monitoring wells in Sand Creek, near where the seepage was detected last fall, showed elevated benzene levels of 55 ppb, 212 ppb and 510 ppb.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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