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Floods from torrential rains or other natural disasters threaten many aspects of the energy sector, including electrical power generation and oil and gas production. Production sites include a plethora of tanks, pumps, trucks, generators and other equipment to allow for the variety of operations that take place on site. Regulations dictate that secondary containment berms surrounding production sites must be able to contain the volume of the largest tank surrounded by the berm with extra volume included to account for rainfall. The industry standard for secondary containment is 110% to 120% of the largest tank volume within a given battery. If a weather event produces serious rainfall for hours on end, even without a tank containment loss, the berm will begin to fill up. Large scale flooding above the height of the surrounding berm will also fill in the production site which may lead to a spill or equipment failure on site.

In 2013, heavy rain and subsequent catastrophic flooding greatly impacted oil and gas operations in the state of Colorado. There was concern that there might be ongoing uncontrolled releases of oil and gas caused by the flood damage. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission had to become an emergency response organization. The agency collaborated with industry and the community to successfully manage the disaster and its aftermath.

Images: “Water Buffalo” by Michael Levine-Clark licensed under CC BY NC ND 2.0