Water regulators decided not to inspect Battlement pipeline site | PostIndependent.com

Water regulators decided not to inspect Battlement pipeline site

A state oil and gas regulator expressed alarm over the way topsoil and water have been handled at this pipeline construction site in Battlement Mesa.
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State water quality regulators said Wednesday they won’t visit a Battlement Mesa site where an oil and gas environmental manager expressed concern about sloppy pipeline installation work.

Greg Deranleau, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission environmental manager, had recommended that the county refer the pipeline installation work to the Water Quality Control Division after finding inadequate topsoil protection and poor stormwater control at sites being prepared by Summit Midstream.

The pipeline is being installed, in part, inside Battlement Mesa residential boundaries in preparation for natural gas drilling by Ursa Resources.

Kirby Wynn, Garfield County oil and gas liaison, told the Post Independent for a story published Wednesday that the county had not contacted the Water Quality Control Division, choosing to work directly with Summit. On Wednesday morning, he clarified that the county had in fact reached out to the agency, but the division said it did not have sufficient resources to investigate.

Nathan Moore, clean water compliance unit manager, said the division has adequate resources to address complaints with specific environmental impact, but concluded that the Battlement site did not pose an ongoing environmental concern based on what it was told by the county.

“The resources that we have need to be focused on environmental impacts, and we try to hit the sites where existing environmental concerns are present,” he explained. “The information that I obtained was that the county believed that the necessary changes were being made.”

He added that Deranleau’s report was based on concerns that were no longer present and, from what he was told, things were already being cleaned up.

He did add, however, that if the county becomes aware of additional concerns at the site, it should contact the division immediately.

Deranleau’s Jan. 27 letter to Wynn said that “COGCC observed improper practices at … pipeline staging areas that would not be in compliance with COGCC rules, including inadequate topsoil protection, insufficient stormwater management and a lack of effective stormwater controls.”

He added, “Heavy equipment operating on the site and other vehicle traffic observed can damage the topsoil. This activity will damage the soil structure and potentially affect the biological activity within the topsoil, which can delay revegetation and impede site stabilization efforts.”

The rules are in place to minimize damage to the land, drainage and wildlife habitat from oil and gas operations.

While the project is currently under Summit Midstream’s control, it won’t be for long, as Ursa will soon take over.

“Based on our observations of actions taken by Summit Midstream during their construction activity at the sites, Ursa may have difficulty complying with those rules upon taking possession of the sites,” Deranleau said.

An Ursa representative told the PI that any deficiencies would be corrected.

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