Over 22,000 gallons of oil spilled so far in Colorado's floods

Regulators say they're expecting to find more

Published September 20, 2013 9:14PM (EDT)

Damaged and toppled storage tanks are releasing oil into Colorado's floodwaters, which remain too high for meaningful cleanup to take place. The Associated Press reports that four spills uncovered today bring the spillage total up to 22,060 gallons of oil, or the equivalent of 525 barrels.

According to the Wall Street Journal, state inspectors and environmental protection specialists are doing aerial surveys for oil and gas damage in flooded areas. Hundreds of wells and pipelines were shut down by their operators when the flooding first began, and infrastructure damage will likely put a halt on much of the state's drilling activity for the next few months.

This isn't quite a reassurance, but authorities in Weld County, where at least four spills have occurred, say their concern over the oil is "eclipsed by much greater volumes of sewage and other contaminants washing into local waterways." The Colorado Oil and Gas Association maintains that no major oil spills have occurred, and that despite fears to the contrary, no fracking fluids have been released.

Governor John Hickenlooper adds that the sheer amount of water into which the oil and other pollutants have spilled will help dilute it all.

By Lindsay Abrams

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Colorado Floods Natural Disaster Oil And Gas Oil Spill