DOE won’t oppose drilling closer to Rulison blast site |

DOE won’t oppose drilling closer to Rulison blast site

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Department of Energy plans to allow natural gas drilling to occur closer and closer to the Rulison blast site.

It’s confident that any contaminants from the blast are contained in a 40-acre zone including the blast site in which drilling is prohibited below 6,000 feet. The position defies a request by Garfield County commissioners. They voted Monday to ask their Congressional delegation and DOE secretary Steven Chu to compel the DOE to do a through investigation in the field in addition to only desktop modeling. The county also asked the DOE to compensate any property and mineral owners left unable to access their resources.

DOE project manager Jack Craig said the DOE will allow drilling sequentially closer to the blast site as it gets sample results from wells confirming its modeling of where contaminants might be. Companies drilling within three miles of the blast site monitor for radioactivity. No drilling has been done within a half-mile of the site.

“Based on our modeling and the research that we’ve done on what occurs during a nuclear detonation, we’re confident that any contamination is contained within” the 40-acre zone including the blast site where drilling is prohibited below 6,000 feet.

But Garfield County officials have said that amounts to letting energy companies act as guinea pigs to find out how close to the blast site it’s safe to drill. They said energy companies are in “a game of chicken” with radioactive substances.

“There’s a disagreement between us and what’s in the letter from Garfield County,” Craig said. “The Department of Energy stands on basic technical merit of what we’ve done so far. I think if we were to get into a point where we were dealing with legislators on these issues the legislators would agree with our point of view.”

Craig said initial wells would be drilled in a safer, north-south orientation, and the sequence of drilling would gradually approach higher-risk east-west orientations as it could be proven contamination didn’t exist.

He added, “We’re not encouraging drilling within the half-mile radius until sampling demonstrates there’s no contaminants.”

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

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