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February 9, 2011
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Report: Silt Mesa water well is not affected by drilling

The Strudley family's water well on Silt Mesa has not been contaminated by nearby oil and gas drilling activities, according to a recent report by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Dave Neslin, director of the COGCC, said the test on the Strudleys' well was one of approximately 25 conducted on wells in the Silt Mesa area, where Antero Resources began drilling wells for natural gas last summer.

The results of tests conducted on most of those wells have not come back yet, Neslin told the Post Independent. The Strudley well test results were reported in a Dec. 22, 2010, letter from COGCC Environmental Protection Specialist Linda Spry O'Rourke, who has an office in Rifle, to the Strudley family.

The tests indicated that "there is no data that would indicate the water quality in your domestic well has been impacted by nearby oil and natural gas drilling and operations," the letter stated.

The 11-page letter was accompanied by nearly 250 pages of scientific data.

Beth Strudley said she doubts the report is correct and said she hired a private firm to conduct another test.

"I certainly wouldn't trust anything the COGCC does as far as I could throw them," she declared, voicing a belief held by some that the COGCC is too closely tied to the oil and gas industry to be counted on to run unbiased tests.

The issue of the Strudleys' well also came up during a recent meeting of the Garfield County commissioners, when Antero vice president Kevin Kilstrom repeatedly cited the COGCC results as evidence that his company's activities are not "poisoning local wells."

The test was conducted in response to a complaint by the Strudley family that their water smelled of "rotten eggs" when they returned home from a family vacation.

The Strudleys also have reported that their two sons have been experiencing a variety of symptoms of an unknown illness, ranging from rashes all over their bodies to nose bleeds and episodes of passing out.

Both the Strudley parents also have reported symptoms, and as a result have relocated the family to a home miles away from Silt Mesa.

Speaking from her new home, Beth Strudley said her attorneys have instructed her to not discuss the situation publicly for now. The Strudleys and others have been speaking with attorneys in New York City and Aspen about the possibility of filing a lawsuit regarding their complaints.

She said the results of a privately conducted test of their water well have not come back yet, and she would make them public as soon as possible.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Feb 9, 2011 01:26AM Published Feb 9, 2011 01:24AM Copyright 2011 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.