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Flooded oil and gas fields in Weld County pose risk

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Colorado has seen deadly and record breaking rain in the past week. From Sept. 9 to Sept. 13, 14.62 inches of rain fell in Boulder. Flooding has ravaged not only Boulder but Denver, Aurora, Commerce City, and Weld County. The death toll is suspected to be at five with over 1000 people still unaccounted for. The flood has uncovered controversial issues as well, such as the homeless being turned away from Boulder shelters and the ecological damage from flooding in Weld County where fracking wells and oil flowed through the rivers.

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An anti-fracking group composed of local citizens in East Boulder County called East Boulder County United (EBCU) posted photos of the ecological disaster occurring in Colo. due to flooding. According to EBCU, oil and gas wells drilled in a flood plain went underwater due to flooding and are leaking in Weld County near Platteville, Colo. It is reported that one pipeline is broke and the dirt supporting it was washed away from the floods. Fracking fluid typically contains over 600 chemicals including, lead, uranium, mercury, radium, methanol, benzene, and formaldehyde, which has the potential to contaminate the land and drinking water.

Cliff Willming, who is part of EBCU, took pictures of the flooding damage in Weld County and explained that many current and old oil and gas wells were damaged in the flood. EBCU is concerned that the flooded St. Vrain river is carrying dangerous toxins and chemicals downstream. When speaking to Willming he explained:

“Our concern is that all of these sites contain various amounts of hazardous industrial wastes that are now capable of spilling into the waterways and onto the agricultural land. Many of these chemicals are carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and known disruptors of the human endocrine system. As of today there is no testing taking place, industrial, independent or otherwise to determine the extent of the contamination, nor any talk of it. And one can guarantee that this week the COGCC will be issuing more drilling permits even as the hydrocarbons flow into the rivers.”

On their blog EBCU reported:
“We’ve emailed the Denver TV stations, other media, and state and local politicians. We’ve sent pictures that our members have taken. It’s like the media and politicians have been TOLD not to say anything about it. There has been no mention of the gas wells on the Denver newscasts either last night or this evening although all stations have had extensive and extended flood coverage. You can see underwater wells in the background of some of the newscast videos, and yet the reporters say absolutely nothing.”

Amidst complaints of a media blackout and being told to remain silent by local politicians, Willming explained that he did receive calls from the Daily Camera and the Weather Channel. The disaster has been reported to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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