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BP says wastewater spill into Animas River contained

Resident next to spill, however, says it is not contained

A wastewater spill from a BP American Production well site that reportedly seeped into the Animas River on Sunday south of Durango has been contained, according to a company spokesman.

But a resident adjacent to the spill location, Elena Lozano, contacted The Durango Herald late Monday, saying the spill is not contained.

“There is still oil residue and sludge running through the Animas Citizens Ditch, which is still running and will interface with the Animas River,” said Elena Lozano, who has lived on County Road 213 since 2002. “

An emergency notice went out Sunday morning from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that said a petroleum smell was reported coming from an irrigation ditch near La Posta Road (County Road 213) and Rancho Durango Road, about 14 miles south of Durango.

The emergency notice said the spill had entered the irrigation ditch and reached the Animas River.

BPX (BP’s name for its lower 48 business) spokesman Brett Clanton wrote in an email Monday that the company was made aware of the “produced water” leak Sunday morning and that it was isolated around 10 a.m.

Clanton did not address how much produced water was released.

Butch Knowlton, director of La Plata County’s Office of Emergency Management, said he became aware of the spill into the Animas River on Sunday. He said he also did not know the extent of how much produced water leaked.

Mike Leonard, community relations manager for Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said state investigators did not find any evidence the spill reached the Animas River.

Calls to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment seeking clarification were not returned Monday.

Produced water is a term used in the oil and gas industry that refers to the water brought to the surface during oil and gas drilling operations to allow gas to release from coal seams.

The chemical makeup of produced water varies depending on its location. It has been known to contain high levels of brine and salt, as well as hydrocarbons, such as methane and benzene that can carry negative environmental and health impacts.

Lozano, however, said the spill is oil.

“You can smell it,” she said.

Lozano said BP did not notify her family of the spill. Instead, she had to learn about the situation through a neighbor.

Lozano feared the spill would negatively impact the ditch and the environment.

“It’s going to change our balance of nature,” she said. “It kills everything. The fish. The crawdaddies. The cranes that come and eat the crawdaddies. They’re going to get poisoned.”

Leonard said BP had crews on scene Monday attempting to clean up the spill, take water samples to determine what was in the produced water and find out how much produced water was spilled.

Clanton wrote that crews attempted to halt the flow by constructing an earthen berm.

Aztec and Farmington, which are downstream, were notified of the spill.

The city of Farmington issued a news release Monday afternoon that said: “In an abundance of caution, intake pumps to Lake Farmington have been shut down. Our citizens can rest assured that Farmington City water remains safe to consume.”

Mike Mestas, emergency manager for the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management, said the city of Aztec has also sent out a NIXL Alert and advised they were not pumping from the river.

“Our Emergency Management office has also notified ditch users and the Navajo Nation,” he said.

This is a developing story. Check back with www.durangoherald.com for updates.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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