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Ranchers, Farmers Eye Flooded Waterways With Concern

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FIRESTONE, Colo. (CBS4) – As inspectors with the state of Colorado and the Environmental Protection Agency begin looking into oil spills that have resulted from the state’s historic flooding, some farmers and ranchers are viewing the state’s waterways that flows near their land with concern.

“I have seen some little light blue sheens here and there in the river,” said rancher Martin Trostel.

Several of Trostel’s rodeo cattle in Weld County got stuck during the flooding as the flood water around them rose, and they remain inaccessible by vehicle. Trostel says his main concern is “Keeping them fed, keeping them happy.”

oil tank

A damaged oil tank in Weld County (credit: CBS)

Trostel crawled on his hands and knees across an old railroad track to tie a rope, buoy his boat and transport feed across the water.

He admits he’s looked close at the water rushing down the St. Vrain River.

“I could be concerned a little bit but I do have faith that they know what they are doing and they’re going to get it fixed,” he said.

He believes his cattle will be safe and ready for the rodeo soon.

The spills in Weld County happened when heavy flooding caused debris movement in the water and forced oil and gas tanks near the river to shift.

The oil and gas industry says cleanup efforts are underway.

“They vacuum out the fluid that was left in the tank and then they vacuum up any fluid that’s on the surface,” Colorado Oil and Gas Association spokeswoman Tisha Schuller said.

State officials say petroleum is not the only contaminant in the waterways.

“There are millions of gallons of untreated wastewater,” said Colorado Department of Natural Resources spokesman Todd Hartman said.

Anti-fracking activist Cliff Willmeng told CBS4 he thinks so far the state isn’t responding in a big enough way to the spills.

“We need some much larger authorities on the ground here to fully assess the environment of Weld County,” Willmeng said.

Colorado Floods: How To Help

The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.

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