(MintPress) – It’s the third spill in weeks for a hydraulic fracturing site in Greeley, Colo.
Just 1,500 feet from the nearest home, a malfunction in the fracking equipment Monday morning released oil and chemicals used in the process, contaminating more than 84,000 gallons of water. The name of the chemicals were not released.
The spill took place over a 30-hour period, until PDC Energy was finally able to contain the incident. Its own crewmembers were tasked with monitoring the air at the site every half hour, ensuring that leaking natural gas wouldn’t lead to an explosion, according to a report in the Denver Post.
Colorado’s Oil and Gas Commissioner told the Post Thursday it was not yet known if the contaminated water had poisoned the groundwater supply. PDC Energy’s last two leaks, occurring within weeks at the same site, were confirmed as having contaminating groundwater.
The commissioner also said there are no penalties being handed down to PDC at that point. Its permit for drilling stands.
The leak in Greeley, Colo. is a sign of the struggle throughout the state, as oil companies have bought up land for the fracking process, which shoots carcinogenic chemicals and water into the ground to break up and extract hidden oil.
Since the boom began in 2008, the state has seen more than 2,070 spills — 17 percent of the time, these spills have resulted with groundwater contamination. Colorado also ranks second in the nation for the use of carcinogenic fluids in the fracking process.
Concern has caused some Colorado communities to issue moratoriums on the practice. In November, the city of Longmont, Colo. voted to ban fracking, prompting Aurora, Louisville and Lafayette, Colo. to consider similar measures.
In January, the state hoped to calm the nerves of those protecting their groundwater, proposing a set of monitoring rules. The standards fell short though, guaranteeing groundwater testing at only 25 percent of the state’s wells. Environmental Defense Fund Region Director Dan Grossman told the Denver Post the proposed rules were the worst in the nation.
Despite the widespread concern, there is still a pro-fracking movement in the state emphasizing the economic benefit yet not recognizing the dire health and environmental effects. Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, is a cheerleader for the industry, and has appeared in radio ads favoring the fracking movement. In one ad, he praises the industry for no “recognized cases” of groundwater contamination.
The advertisement was sponsored by Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
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