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Coloradans sue oil company for abandoning old well on their property

Coloradans sue oil company for abandoning old well on their property
Coloradans sue oil company for abandoning old well on their property 02:28

Cindy and Ronald McCormick bought their dream property near Hudson, about 40 miles northeast of Denver, in 2020.

"We loved the area, we loved the Mountain View that we have," said Cindy McCormick.

Cindy and Ronald McCormick CBS

It only has one downside; the eyesore near the entrance of their driveway.

"Over here is four of the tanks. And then, I don't- I'm not sure what that thing is, but it's pretty ugly. And then there's a shed of abandoned stuff over here and then a pretty, kind of dangerous pit over here," said Cindy McCormick.


An old, nearly depleted oil well sits on the property, but they were assured by their realtor and the company that owned the well when they bought it that the site would be capped and removed soon.

"So, we thought, great, we can build our forever home here," said Cindy McCormick.

But as the years dragged on and the site remained, Cindy started to call around for answers.

"And found out that they went bankrupt and it was now considered an abandoned well," said Cindy McCormick.


Turns out they aren't the only Coloradans who have had something like this happen. They and a group of landowners and farmers have filed a lawsuit against Denver-based HRM Resources, alleging that they have a practice of buying nearly depleted sites and then selling them to smaller companies that are about to go bankrupt to avoid having to clean them up.

Camile Sippel, a lawyer at the environmental legal non-profit ClientEarth, says that it's dangerous for people who live near the abandoned sites and for the environment.

Lawyer at ClientEarth an environmental legal nonprofit Camile Sippel CBS

"If they leak, they can contaminate groundwater sources. They also leak extreme amounts of methane. They're associated with toxins such as benzene," said Sippel.

It's something the McCormicks worry about too.

"We've seen history of explosions happening and so we have that concern," said Cindy McCormick.


They hope this suit will put an end to all of their worries.

"We are hoping that the lawsuit will make them accountable, that they will come and plug the well, make sure that everything is safe, remove everything that needs to be removed," said Cindy McCormick.

CBS News Colorado reached out to HRM Resources for a response but we have not heard back.

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