Suncor reports chemical sheen on Sand Creek, breach of containment area at refinery north of Denver

Company officials say tests show contaminants did not exceed state standards for surface water

Suncor Energy contractors work along Sand Creek after the detection of a chemical sheen on the water outside the oil refinery north of Denver on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.
Suncor Energy contractors work along Sand Creek after the detection of a chemical sheen on the water outside the oil refinery north of Denver on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. (Photo Credit: Bruce Finley, The Denver Post)

Contaminated water has been seeping into Sand Creek just up from where it meets the South Platte River near the Suncor Energy oil refinery north of Denver, and company officials on Wednesday said they were monitoring conditions and “will make any necessary repairs” to a spill containment pool behind sandbags where crews were pumping out water.

A sheen of benzene and other chemicals was detected on the surface of Sand Creek on May 7 and again on May 15, company officials said.

Sunday’s heavy rains raised water levels along the creek, leading to a breach of the containment area.

“An investigation is underway to identify the material and understand the potential source,” Suncor spokeswoman Jessica Depencier said in an emailed response to queries from The Denver Post.

Read more of the story on The Denver Post

Bruce Finley covers environment-related news: the land, air and water issues around Colorado and the West. A longtime Post staff reporter who has worked worldwide and a lawyer, Bruce grew up in Colorado and its mountains and has relished the chance to serve residents. Bruce graduated from Stanford University, then earned masters' degrees in international relations as a Fulbright scholar in Britain and in journalism at Northwestern University. He went to law school at the University of Denver, earning his JD in 2012 and joining the Colorado Bar. He has won numerous journalism awards. His international affairs work led to on-site reporting in 40 countries including a stint in Africa, multiple assignments in Iraq, and after the 9/11 attacks, around the Arab world from Pakistan to Yemen.

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