Commissioners to review injection well over residents’ seismic concerns
June 15, 2014
PARACHUTE — Garfield County commissioners have agreed to hear a local citizens group's concerns about the risk of earthquake activity related to wastewater injection wells used by oil and gas operators in the area.
Commissioners, meeting in Parachute Monday, set a July 14 "call-up" hearing at the request of Battlement Mesa Concerned Citizens to consider additional conditions for an injection well approved by county planning staff last month for energy company Ursa.
The well would be on private land about three-quarters of a mile southwest of the Battlement Mesa community. Injection wells are used by energy companies to dispose of wastewater produced in the hydraulic fracturing process for drilling natural gas wells.
With recent reports in Colorado and elsewhere around the country about a potential link between seismic activity in proximity to injection wells, the Battlement group says it's time to visit that question locally and to consider protections for area residents.
“Residents of Battlement Mesa are concerned with the growing number of injection wells near their community and the significant negative impact that could result in the event of seismic activity.”
group request signed by Battlement Mesa residents Dave Devanney and Doug Saxton
Specifically, the group requests that the county require Ursa to cease operations at current and future injection wells whenever state or federal agencies detect seismic activity within a one-mile radius of a well site.
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The county might also consider having the energy companies do their own seismic monitoring on site, the group suggests.
"Residents of Battlement Mesa are concerned with the growing number of injection wells near their community and the significant negative impact that could result in the event of seismic activity," according to the group's request, signed by Battlement Mesa residents Dave Devanney and Doug Saxton.
Area residents should also be notified in the event of such activity, they said.
Recently, scientists have found connections between an increase in seismic activity and the presence of injection wells, including in Weld County north of Greeley. However, no direct links have been determined as studies are ongoing there and elsewhere in the country.
In addition to requesting that seismic activity be monitored and reported at the Battlement Mesa site, the citizens groups is also seeking a specific time line for installation of a proposed pipeline by Ursa to take wastewater to the injection well site from nearby gas facilities.
If the pipeline serves to reduce truck traffic to and from the injection well site, that would be a benefit to the Battlement Mesa community, Devanney said.
"We request that the county require that Ursa, within 60 days of receiving approval, have pipeline capability in place to move the produced water to the injection well site from local well pads," states the request from Battlement Concerned Citizens.
Area residents have long complained about the amount of industry related truck traffic near homes in Battlement Mesa.