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Colorado Floods Damage Farms, Oil Wells, Roadways

floodReduced corn production, oil spills, natural gas leaks, property losses and damaged trucking routes are just some of the effects last week’s massive floods in Colorado are having on business.

To date the floods have caused $2 billion in property damage, about half from housing and about half from the commercial and government sectors, according to catastrophe modeling firm Eqecat, Reuters reports.

The state’s agriculture industry — worth $41 billion to the state’s economy annually — is bracing itself for widespread damage from the floodwaters, according to the news service. Concern is widespread for Colorado’s corn, which is the state’s top cash crop, and is under threat of rotting if it stays underwater for too long.

However, the state’s wheat farms are mostly based in the drought-stricken southeastern corner of Colorado and may actually benefit from the rain, the news service reports.

The state is now tracking 10 oil and gas spills within the Colorado flood zone, according to The Denver Post.

Of those 10, two, both of which were reported by Anadarko Petroleum, are classified as major. About 5,225 gallons spilled into the South Platte River near Miliken and around 13,500 gallons were released by a tank farm on the St. Vrain Rover near Platteville, the paper reports.

Gov. John Hickenlooper described the smaller spills as “very small relative to the huge flow of water” that came through the state, the paper reports.

The trucking industry is also facing long-term disruption as Colorado scrambles to fix bridges and roads washed out by the flooding.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is trying to rally three teams to help construct temporary roads to replace parts of major roads including US 36, US 34 and State Highway 7, Fleet Owner reports.

Some 200 miles of road and 50 bridges have been damaged, according to Colorado’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. It will cost $135 million to just start the repairs, the agency says.

A Small Business Majority opinion poll released in June found that the majority of small employers — about 60 percent — believe climate change and extreme weather events are an urgent problem that can disrupt the economy and harm businesses.

Extreme weather events like the Colorado floods, the ongoing drought in the Western US  and Hurricane Sandy affect businesses and expose the US’ economic vulnerability to climate change, according to the 500 firms including Nike and GM that have signed Ceres’ Climate Declaration. The declaration calls upon federal policymakers to address climate change as an economic opportunity.

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