The Suncor oil refinery upwind of Denver that recently belched pumpkin-colored gas and dust into the sky, worrying residents and prompting highway closures, released far more sulfur dioxide than previously known — 75,600 pounds, 150 times beyond a 24-hour limit that triggers an investigation, according to a company letter obtained Friday.
Suncor spokeswoman Lisha Burnett told reporters shortly after the Oct. 14 event that no sulfur dioxide had been detected near the refinery, but company officials later acknowledged the sulfur dioxide release had exceeded the daily limit of 500 pounds. The company and state officials say the release did not pose any health risks.
In a letter to Colorado and Adams County emergency management officials this week, the company said the release totaled 37.8 tons of excess sulfur dioxide from the Plant 1 main flare, the tail gas incinerator, Plant 2 main flare and Plant 3 main flare.
“There are no known or anticipated acute or chronic health risks associated with the release, and there is no need for persons to take any precautions or seek medical attention related to this release,” the company said in the letter.
The refinery has been under scrutiny by state regulators for years over air pollution problems and remains under investigation.