What leaked? Of the 981 company-reported spills, formation-produced water (brine) and frack fluid used in drilling accounted for nearly half - 461 - and about 85 percent (106,000 barrels) of the amount spilled. The 319 oil spills accounted for only 6,500 barrels of the total spilled.
One hundred eighty-two spills impacted groundwater, 82 contaminated surface water, and another 10 impacted both groundwater and surface water. While drillers in Garfield County reported about a quarter of the total spills (236), they accounted for the highest volume of material spilled - some 66,386 barrels, mostly drilling liquids and water used in natural-gas exploration. So far, Colorado officials have levied only two fines, totaling nearly $650,000. Both were against Oxy USA in 2008 for contamination of two springs near Parachute caused by leaks from pits containing drilling wastewater and hydrocarbons from oil and gas. State investigators found elevated levels of benzene in the springs.
David Neslin, director of the
Companies are not required to publicly disclose the mix of chemicals used in frack fluids. But, Neslin added,
's new regulations went into effect last year, and they require that companies disclose the content of frack fluids in spills if the state asks. Colorado
Neslin said the state has concentrated its efforts on new rules designed to minimize the impact of spills. For example, keeping drilling operations farther from water sources and people.