State and federal regulators have issued 80 citations to energy companies, saying they failed to protect wildlife in northeastern Colorado from pits filled with leftover water and oil from drilling.
Many of the alleged violations involved oil slicks in pits designed only to hold water drawn from underground during drilling. Such oil slicks prove deadly to waterfowl that land in the polluted waters.
Other problems included damage to netting that covers the pits, or insufficient berms to protect from overflows in the event of storms. Failure to contain the water can lead to streams overcome by oil-blackened scum.
It's not known whether the citations - Notices of Alleged Violation issued by state regulators - will result in any fines. In at least 33 of the 80 cases, violations have been corrected, and no penalties will be issued, Neslin said.
Despite the recent citations, Mowad credited oil and gas operators in Colorado with taking big steps toward improving their practices.