Reported oil and gas spills surge in Colo.

Photo: oil tanks
Large tanks like these in Weld County are used to store oil.

State regulators attribute a jump in reported oil and gas spills in Colorado to new reporting requirements, and more field inspectors out checking drilling sites.

The number of spills so far this year is approaching 500, putting 2014 on pace to be an above-average year for spills.

Todd Hartman with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources says the rise follows new rules that took effect earlier this year.

"We dramatically reduced the threshold for a spill that requires an operator to report to us," Hartman said. "Logic tells us that’s going to result in a higher number of reported spills."

And, says Hartman, DNR has also added more drill site inspectors.

"We have more people out combing the oil and gas locations to ensure that they’re operating properly, and at times those people will themselves find generally a small spill and report that so that will also add to the tally," he said.

There are more than 52,000 active oil and gas wells around Colorado.