County stops Antero pipeline project
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
A Garfield County building inspector has slapped a “stop-work order” on a pipeline project under way for the Antero Resources gas drilling company, after the owner of the affected property complained that the installation was sloppy and hazardous.
And the owner of the property wants his elected local representatives to side with him against the gas company, and impose a moratorium to provide time to check out other pipeline installations around Garfield County.
Landowner Bob Regulski, a longtime valley resident and developer, told the Post Independent this week that he also has won a “restraining order” in court against the pipeline project, and that he is going for a permanent injunction.
“The workmanship is deficient and, if allowed to proceed, would result in defective pipelines and a very hazardous condition,” Regulski wrote in a letter to the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners.
In August, after observing the work, Regulski said he told Antero to stop the project. But, he reported, “Instead of stopping, work on the pipelines accelerated in what appears to me to be a rushed attempt to complete the work and hide the evidence.”
In addition to the county’s stop-work order, Regulski has a letter from local engineer Chris Hale, of Mountain Cross Engineering in Glenwood Springs, which supports Regulski’s assessments and notes that the work fails to meet “the requirements as specified by the manufacturer.”
As noted by Regulski, Hale reports that the pipes are resting on top of or next to large rocks, plants and other debris, instead of fill dirt meant to support the pipes evenly.
Manufacturers’ specifications, Hale’s letter states, are intended to “prevent the pipes from being damaged, broken, punctured or burst.” He notes that if the pipes are damaged they could “leak into the surrounding soils and introduce contaminants.”
Besides the quality of the work, Regulski has claimed that the Midstream Pipeline company, which installs pipelines for Antero, put the pipeline in the wrong place, and not in the right of way identified in the contract for the installation.
In what Regulski sees as retaliation for his opposition to the project, Antero has filed a condemnation action in Garfield County District Court, to take possession of the strip of hillside where the pipeline now runs. Regulski said the trench that now lies open to the elements is well uphill from the actual route he agreed to.
“In making its condemnation claim, Antero now asserts that the taking is ‘necessary,’ even though it still holds the easement I sold to it,” Regulski wrote in his letter to the commissioners.
He wrote that two of the pipelines, according to Antero, were to carry “produced water,” or water that comes out of a well bore and “typically contain fracking fluids and carcinogens,” which Regulski believes represents a health hazard not only for him, but for “all Garfield County residents who have pipelines on their land.”
Plus, he declared in his letter, “If those lines were to rupture, mere feet from the confluence of the Colorado River and Divide Creek, entire municipal water supplies downstream could be at risk.”
He has asked that the commissioners “issue a moratorium on any further grading permits for pipeline installations” until the county can look into other pipelines to determine of they have been properly installed.
County manager Ed Green acknowledged that the letter was received this week at the county, and that officials are looking into the matter.
“What we’re involved with, from a building and planning perspective, is correcting the problem,” Green remarked, explaining that the county has a role in seeing that the pipeline is installed correctly and safely.
As for Regulski’s concerns about other pipeline installations around the county, Green said, “We can’t deal with speculation. If the commissioners want to investigate the rest of it, it’s up to them.”
Antero officials did not return calls for comment made by the Post Independent.
An employee of the Midstream pipeline firm, Mark Moss, also declined to comment, other than to say that “Mr. Regulski is trying to drag all this stuff through the mud.”
But Glenwood Springs attorney Chris Coyle, who is representing Antero in the condemnation suit, said on Tuesday, “We don’t comment as to matters in litigation.”
Asked why Antero decided in favor of condemnation, Coyle remarked, “Because … Antero thought it was in their best interest” in terms of getting its gas to market.
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Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or email@example.com