Donna Gray
Post Independent Staff

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July 20, 2005
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EnCana's denial doesn't deter woman

When Laura Amos looks out her dining room window, she doesn't see the west Colorado landscape. She sees the huge water tank the EnCana gas company fills every few weeks.

Just across her fence looms the gas company's G33 well pad, with four wells that Amos says have contaminated her water. Amos' water supply is contaminated by natural gas; that much is certain, although the source of that gas has not been officially settled.

But Amos is more concerned with a different kind of contamination. Looking out at the water tank that dominates her view, the Silt resident argues that EnCana's hydraulic fracturing on its nearby wells has contaminated her water.

EnCana, which has been providing drinking water to the Amos home since January, denies that chemicals from the "frac'ing" have leaked into the Amos water well.

Tuesday, Amos spoke to the Post Independent about her efforts to prove EnCana is the source of the contamination.

Last week, EnCana laid out its case to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in Rifle. EnCana engineer Joel Fox and water-well expert Tony Gorody said hydraulic fracturing fluid could not have entered Laura Amos' water well.

COGCC staff has recommended fining EnCana for contaminating the Amos well with gas from its wells. It will hold a hearing on the matter in October. However, the COGCC staff has agreed with the gas company that the Amos well shows no signs of fracturing chemicals associated with natural-gas production.

Amos disagrees.

"The dates our water well was impacted exactly bracket the dates of (EnCana's) hydraulic fracturing," she said.

Since her well "blew up" on May 1, 2001, Amos has made two allegations that frac'ing caused her well to blow its top, and that 2BE, a chemical used in the process, leaked into her well. Amos has been diagnosed with an adrenal gland tumor and she says it was caused by that contamination.

Amos said she pressured the company to admit it used 2BE in frac'ing, but EnCana repeatedly denied using the chemical. Then, she said, she received a letter from the COGCC in 2004 that confirmed EnCana used the compound during one frac'ing job in June 2001. That, according to Amos, was "38 days after they knew gas was flowing" to her well.

Amos also questions EnCana's testing of her well water.

"The premise is we can trust the people who are doing the testing. ... But the people who are causing the problem tested it," she said. "This company has a long history of lying and denying."

She also contends the company did not test her water for 2BE until January, three years after the blowup, long after the chemical would have disappeared from her well water.

"Tony Gorody implied (the well was) tested for 2BE or frac'ing fluid in May and August of 2001 and was not detected," she said. "The truth is, this past winter they tested for 2BE, three and a half years after the initial impact."

At the COGCC meeting last week, Gorody said thermogenic, or production-type, gas contaminated the Amos well.

"Hydraulic frac'ing created or opened up a hydrogeological connection (from the EnCana wells) with my water well," Amos said. "This is a fact. Wells would not be economical without hydraulic frac'ing. They've got an obligation to protect hydraulic frac'ing and to keep it available to them."

On this sunny, blue-sky day, Amos and her daughter Lauren look out over their barbed-wire fence at excavating equipment moving back and forth over the G33 well pad, a stone's throw away.

"We used to have gorgeous property here. Now it's an industrial wasteland."

Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510

dgray@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Jul 20, 2005 12:37AM Published Jul 20, 2005 12:37AM Copyright 2005 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.