Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today requested that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) produce a comprehensive report on the recent contamination of Sand Creek and the South Platte River north of Denver with a “gasoline-like liquid” that includes benzene.
In a letter to Jim Martin, EPA Regional Administrator for Region 8, Bennet asks for a report chronicling the incident that led to the contamination and the subsequent response in an effort to avoid similar incidents in the future.
“Our first priority must be clean-up and the long-term health of these important waterways, as well as the health of Coloradans who depend on them or live nearby,” Bennet said. “It is also important that we learn from this to help stem off similar incidents in the future and work to improve our response, containment and clean-up efforts.”
The full text of the letter is included below.
Dear Regional Administrator Martin:
Thank you for your prompt response to the recent contamination of Sand Creek and the South Platte River north of Denver. As you and your staff are aware, the South Platte River is the lifeblood of northeast Colorado. Containing and cleaning up the recent spill is particularly important given that the contamination has occurred adjacent to a major metropolitan area and that it is seeping into a Colorado waterway.
In addition to the agency’s clean-up efforts, I respectfully request a report chronicling the incident and the subsequent response in an effort to avoid future spills of this nature. It is my hope the below questions, in particular, are considered as part of the overall report:
1) Does EPA anticipate any future public health threats from the incident? Can you please chronicle the monitoring and data that support your conclusions?
2) Does EPA anticipate any future water quality threats to Sand Creek or the South Platte River from the incident? Can you please chronicle the monitoring and data that support your conclusions?
3) Is the plume of contaminated material, as reported, legacy contamination? If not legacy contamination, from where did the material originate?
4) If the material is legacy contamination, what steps are being taken to address the source of contamination and assess any other potential legacy contamination risks?
5) Can you please outline the details of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) order finalized following the incident?
6) Can you please outline what entity will ultimately cover the costs for the incident response and clean up?
7) Could this contamination have been prevented?
8) Does Congress need to authorize any additional authority for EPA or other agencies to prevent incidents like this in the future?
I once again commend you for your response to this threat. Thank you in advance for considering my request for a report on the incident.