Colorado Air Regulators Shut Down Oil and Gas Facility Over Air Pollution and Health Concerns

After repeated air pollution violations, regulators ordered Prospect Energy to immediately cease operations at an oil and gas storage site north of Fort Collins, Colorado.

An infrared photo of the Krause oil and gas storage site taken by environmental group Earthworks in September 2021 shows a leak from one of the tanks.
Source: Andrew Klooster/Earthworks

After repeated air pollution violations, Colorado regulators ordered Prospect Energy to immediately cease operations at an oil and gas storage site north of Fort Collins.

Michael Ogletree, the director of the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division, said the shutdown order at the company’s Krause tank battery marks the first time Colorado has shut down a facility because of air pollution concerns in over a decade.

"This is something we don't take lightly," Ogletree said.

The site gathers and stores oil and gas from nearby drill sites. The state started inspecting the facility in 2021 after repeated odor complaints from nearby residents. During a June visit, a state air sensor sounded an alarm for hydrogen sulfide, a flammable, toxic, and dangerous gas that smells like rotten eggs.

The chemical is an immediate threat to human health. Even fleeting exposures to the compound can irritate the eyes and cause headaches. At higher concentrations, the toxin can cause unconsciousness and, in some cases, lead to permanent effects like poor memory and motor function.

The Air Pollution Control Division has cited the facility for breaking environmental law four times since December 2021. After finding Prospect Energy had not made meaningful efforts to bring the site into compliance, it ordered a shutdown under Colorado laws that give them emergency authority over operations considered a direct threat to public health.

Ogletree said inspectors confirmed the company followed through with the shutdown order. Ward Giltner, the owner of Prospect Energy, did not immediately return a request for comment.

The shutdown order was a welcome relief to Von Bortz, who lives near the tank battery and operates a farm animal rescue facility.

"For the longest time, I’ve been afraid to open my windows. I’m still a little scared, but, if they can get into compliance, that’s great," Bortz said.

Read the full story here.