2015 Colorado Oil and Gas Toxic Release Tracker

Colorado’s oil and gas boom subsided in 2015, with falling oil prices, stagnant natural gas prices, and declining interest in drilling.

Nevertheless, communities in Colorado continue experiencing the downsides of oil and gas drilling, including oil and chemical spills that occur during drilling and production activities.

According to publicly available data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), there were 615 spills in 2015, meaning that nearly two spills occurred every day in the state.

Here are the summary statistics for the spills that occurred in Colorado in 2015.

615 Spills Were Reported To The COGCC
110 Spills Contained Oil

spilltypes

Note: total does not add up to 615. Some spills were composed of more than one type of fluid and others do not report spill type.

51 Spills Contained at Least 5 Barrels (210 Gallons) of Oil

spillsize

15% Of Spills Resulted In Water Contamination
  • 90 spills resulted in water contamination.
  • 268 spills, or 44%, occurred fewer than 50 feet from groundwater.
  • 189 spills, or 31%, occurred within 1,000 feet of surface water.
  • 241 spills occurred within 1,500 feet of a water well.

surfacewater

groundwater

61 Spills Occurred Within 500 Feet of a Building
  • 61 spills, or 10%, occurred within the 500-foot setback distance from buildings.
  • 134 spills occurred between 500 feet and 1,500 feet of a building.
  • Over 30% of all spills in 2015 occurred within 1,500 of a building.

buildings

Spills Impacted Livestock and Wetlands
  • 54 spills occurred in within 500 feet of cows, pigs, sheep, or other livestock.
  • 32 spills occurred within 500 feet of a wetland.
64% of Spills Occurred Within Just Two Counties
  • Weld County and Garfield County—two Colorado counties known for intensive oil and gas development—had the highest number of spills last year, at 315 and 76 spills each.
  • The other counties with the highest spills were Las Animas (41 spills), Rio Blanco (40 spills), Yuma (31), and Adams (24 spills).
5 Operators Reported More Than 40% of Spills
  • Five operators caused 267 spills—43 percent of total spills—in Colorado in 2015: Kerr-McGee, Noble Energy, Pioneer Natural Resources, WPX Energy, and DCP Midstream.
  • At 79 spills, Noble Energy caused the most spills of any operator in Colorado.