From a transcript of an 18 September 2013 interview on Democracy Now about the aftermath of the 2013 Colorado floods. Jim Pullen is a reporter at Colorado radio station KGNU, an independent community station in Boulder and Denver. Hyperlinks are my own.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And when do you expect to learn, Jim Pullen, of the extent of the environmental contamination as a result of these floods?
JIM PULLEN: That, I think that is going to take some weeks, very unfortunately. There are two things going on — well there are several things that are going on that are of incredible concern. Of course, in any flood event, there are going to be a lot of contaminants in the water. There are going to be dead animals, there are going to be — there are oil stations — gasoline stations that have been inundated. People’s homes have been inundated, and people keep a lot of chemicals in their homes that are under relatively low protection.
We have some very serious issues here in the state of Colorado in addition to those normal flooding issues. We have the Rocky Flats plant, or what was once upon a time the Rocky Flats Plant where plutonium is underground. And there has been extensive flooding in that area. And we also have tens of thousands of active oil and gas wells in the state, 20,000 alone in Weld County. The industry — a lobbying group is reporting 1900 of those oil and gas wells have been shut down, and including the two largest suppliers, Noble Energy and Anadarko are reporting about five to ten percent of their wells have been shut down.
For example, Noble Energy owns 7600 wells in Weld County itself, which is right to the northeast of us. So, there are a lot of contaminants potentially floating around. And in the case of Rocky Flats, I spoke with a Christine Everson (ed. note: Kristen Iversen?) last night and she said it is going to take weeks for laboratory results of plutonium and other contaminants to become available to the public.
Notes: A Denver Post story of September 16 further reports:
Colorado’s richest oil field — the Denver-Julesburg Basin — is buried in floodwaters, raising operational and environmental concerns, as state and industry officials work to get a handle on the problem.
Thousands of wells and operating sites have been affected — some remain in rushing waters, officials said.
“The scale is unprecedented,” said Mike King, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “We will have to deal with environmental contamination from whatever source.”
Notes: Another Denver Post story with breaking news of an oil spill on the South Platte River –
MILLIKEN — Industry crews have placed absorbent booms in the South Platte River south of Milliken where at least 5,250 gallons of crude oil has spilled into the flood-swollen river.
The spill from a damaged tank was reported to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources Wednesday afternoon by Anadarko Petroleum, as is required by state law.
State officials have responded to the spill site, which is south of Milliken near where the St. Vrain River flows into the South Platte.
more on the Rocky Flats flooding from the Boulder Weekly
“At least some of the answers to these questions will likely come sometime around Oct. 11, when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) estimates that it will get back test results from two labs that examined samples from the 10 surface-water monitoring stations at the Flats, most of which are located along the Walnut and Woman creeks. But will these test results answer all the questions being raised? Considering the long history of Rocky Flats and the ongoing, 30-plus years of controversy surrounding its contamination and cleanup, it seems unlikely.”