Hold Suncor Accountable


Supporters spoke up in this action

Delivery to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

What Happens Next

Thank you to all who took action! We’re grateful for your support.

What Was At Stake

The Suncor oil refinery has polluted the air and water of metro Denver’s communities for way too long. Recently, a temporary shutdown resulted in pollution emissions violations, a gas leak, elevated benzene levels discharged into nearby Sand Creek, and two fires — one of which hospitalized two workers. To protect both workers and the surrounding community, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) must investigate the safety and maintenance practices at Suncor’s refinery following the shutdown and ensure that the health and safety of nearby communities is secured.

In late 2022, Suncor Energy reported that its refinery would shut down for several months due to damage from a cold snap that impacted much of the country.

Suncor has provided very little information about the damage to its facility, the cause of that damage, or the extent of the pollution released during the shutdown. The public didn’t learn of the increased benzene pollution in Sand Creek until it was reported by Colorado Public Radio. This lack of transparency is disturbing, as nearby residents continue to be left in the dark about the health impacts they could be facing from Suncor’s operations.

While other refineries across the country initiated preventative shutdowns to avoid this type of catastrophic failure, Suncor was not prepared. Forecasters predicted the cold weather that damaged the refinery well in advance and Suncor should have heeded the warnings and implemented measures ahead of time to protect the health and safety of nearby neighborhoods in the event a shutdown was necessary. It did not.

Suncor has polluted the air and water of the surrounding communities for decades, with a disproportionate impact falling on the predominantly Latino community living in North Denver and Commerce City. The Colorado Department of Health & Environment (CDPHE) must take steps to hold Suncor accountable, fully inform the public in both Spanish and English about remaining risks, and disclose the level of pollution Suncor emitted during this shutdown.

Not only must CDPHE investigate the shutdown, but it must ensure that Suncor’s routine operations are performed without putting communities at risk. Suncor’s air and water permits are currently under review at CDPHE, presenting an important opportunity for CDPHE to put a stop to years of environmental injustice suffered by the North Denver and Commerce City communities. CDPHE must put strong controls on Suncor’s air and water pollution, including stringent limits on PFAS discharges in the water and its air permits must include robust emission controls, monitoring, and reporting measures to provide meaningful protection for communities living in Suncor’s shadow. Send a letter to CDPHE today!

The Suncor Energy refinery in Commerce City, Colorado.
The Suncor Energy refinery in Commerce City, Colorado. (Matt Nager for Earthjustice)

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