Suncor Energy’s oil refinery in Commerce City is one of the largest pollution sources in Colorado, emitting more than 800,000 tons of greenhouse gasses and other contaminants each year – raising health concerns for residents of north Denver’s largely lower-income neighborhoods and beyond.
Last summer, Suncor exceeded its state-permitted level of emissions for one of the more toxic gasses the refinery releases from its stacks: hydrogen cyanide. The event passed largely unnoticed, as neither Suncor nor state health officials alerted surrounding neighborhoods or even Adams County emergency managers.
Ten months later, Colorado health officials have not penalized the Canadian energy company for this violation of its permit, though they say they’re still considering enforcement. And Suncor now is asking the state to simply raise the level of hydrogen cyanide it can release into the air.
Bruce Finley, the Denver Post’s environmental reporter, today sheds important light on one of the most toxic pollutants emitted by the state’s only oil refinery, and how it’s monitored. Nearby residents are fearful for their health, county officials are asking for better disclosure and U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette is seeking federal rules that would regulate how much of the toxic gas can be released into the skies as a byproduct of oil production.
It’s an important topic, particularly as Colorado’s new governor says he wants to clean the state’s air.
– Matt Sebastian, Enterprise Editor of The Denver Post
Five of The Denver Post’s best stories this week
Suncor Energy’s oil refinery in Commerce City as seen on May 1, 2019. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)
A test at Suncor Energy’s oil refinery north of Denver last July revealed that the facility was releasing more hydrogen cyanide than it was permitted to. Neither the company nor state health officials notified nearby residents. Read more from Bruce Finley.
A rendering from the upcoming Aurora Highlands project depicts part of the planned community. (Provided by Aurora Highlands)
The idea of an “aerotropolis” near Denver International Airport has been just aspirational talk for years … until now. The Aerotropolis Regional Transportation Authority voted last week to issue $200 million in bonds to transportation improvements in the area that would make Aurora Highlands possible. Read more from John Aguilar.
Gavin Hole and his girlfriend, Jillian Chamberlin, of San Diego stayed at the Maven hotel and were killing time with wine in the Cellar at the Dairy Block until their flight home May 21, 2019. (Joe Amon, The Denver Post)
Denver is considering “common consumption areas” where patrons can carry their drinks from one business to the next. No, it won’t be like Las Vegas. Instead, the change would allow a strip of businesses, like Denver’s Dairy Block, to apply for special permits that would allow open consumption within a specific area. Read more from Saja Hindi.
Fog rolls over Cheesman Park in Denver on Oct. 29, 2013. (The Denver Post file)
The Mile High City has slipped to 29th place in a national ranking of cities’ park access and quality. The city has a wide distribution of parks but brought down by an overall lack of acreage. Now, mayoral candidate Michael Hancock and Jamie Giellis grapple with how to improve Denver’s parks. Read more from Bruce Finley.
MORE ON DENVER’S MAYOR RACE
A nurse collects a blood sample from a patient using a glucometer at a free diabetic health check-up camp on World Health Day 2016. (Noah Seelam, AFP/Getty Images)
Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill this week that made Colorado the first in the nation to implement a cap on what its residents can be charged for insulin. The law doesn’t limit what manufacturers can charge insurance companies so it’s expected those insurers will pay the difference. Read more from Anna Staver.
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Photo of the Week
Florence and the Machine performs in the snow and rain at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on May 20, 2019 in Morrison, Colorado. (Seth McConnell, Special to the Denver Post)
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