From Colorado Public News (David O. Williams):
Colorado state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush says she plans to take up the issue of water contamination and greater setbacks for oil and gas wells from waterways in the wake of this month’s devastating flooding. Mitsch Bush, a Democrat representing Routt and Eagle counties on the Western Slope, told Colorado Public News new rules need to be considered for keeping drilling away from rivers and streams. The approach is similar to the state’s new setback rules for homes and public buildings, which went into effect Aug. 1. Current rules prohibit drilling within 300 feet of streams that provides municipal drinking water – extending five miles upstream of the water intake – but that setback doesn’t apply to bodies of water in general…
Rivers across northeastern Colorado – including the South Platte and St. Vrain – have been inundated with a variety of contaminants from flooding that started Sept. 11. Mitsch Bush said she is concerned about potential health impacts of the 890 barrels of oil that regulators confirmed have spilled in the flood zone.
“Any oil, any condensate, has the BTEX [benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene] component and many others,” said Mitsch Bush. “All of those are very contaminating in a water body in relatively small portions. I think it’s really important that we don’t minimize what’s in there, but at the same time that we don’t have a huge overreaction either.”[…]
Asked about the potential for new setback laws or rules as a result of the floods, a spokesman for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry trade group, said their continued focus is on recovery, safety and getting production back online.
“Once flooding began, over 1,900 wells were shut in,” the group’s Director of Policy and External Affairs Doug Flanders said in an email, referring to the organization’s website for shut-in procedures. “To date, this has resulted in less than 1 percent of the wells having any isolated incidents due to debris-filled flood waters…
“In my experience, you don’t ever get a perfect solution,” she said, “but you get a better, a good, a sufficient solution if you can work with all the groups and sit down, talk about it, work together and see what you can come up with.”