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Suncor Site photo. Credit: USFWS.
Background: Suncor owns and operates a refinery in Commerce City, Colorado (Suncor Refinery or Refinery) that
produces gasoline, diesel fuel, and paving-grade asphalt. In November 2011, oil was discovered discharging into Sand Creek near its confluence with the South Platte River and not far from the Suncor
Refinery. It was subsequently determined the discharge was the result of oil leaking from a subsurface
pipe at the Refinery. The oil released from the pipe entered groundwater under the Suncor Refinery,
where it commingled with an existing plume of contaminated groundwater and migrated offsite,
ultimately leading to the discharge of oil into Sand Creek and the South Platte River. This same
contaminated groundwater plume was also responsible for a discharge of oil into a wetland located on
the Suncor Refinery property in February 2011 that resulted in waterfowl mortalities. In response to the
discovery of the discharge to Sand Creek, Suncor took various actions pursuant to direction from the
Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to
limit, prevent and remediate the discharge of oil to Sand Creek, the South Platte River and their
As described in more detail located in the public documents section, the Incident and related response activities resulted in injuries to
natural resources, including aquatic and riparian habitats, wetland habitat, waterfowl, and groundwater.