EnCana fined for contaminating water wells
One of the largest producers of natural gas in Garfield County, EnCana, has been fined by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for contaminating two domestic water wells south of Silt. At a meeting in Glenwood Springs Monday, the COGCC fined EnCana $77,400 and $99,400 respectively for contamination of the Dietrich and Amos/Walker wells with gas from its nearby natural gas wells.EnCana was fined $371,000 in August 2004 for causing a natural-gas seep in and around West Divide Creek south of Silt.COGCC received a complaint on April 30, 2001, from Harland Walker, co-owner of the Amos/Walker well, who said the well was contaminated by gas from EnCana wells on the nearby G33 pad.On May 1, 2001, COGCC received a complaint from Larry Amos saying his well cap had blown off and that gray fizzy water gushed from the well.Amos’ wife Laura contended that fracturing fluid from the EnCana wells, which were drilled in 2001 by Ballard Petroleum, caused her to develop a rare adrenal gland tumor in 2003.COGCC tested the water in the Amos/Walker and Dietrich wells in 2003 and 2004 and found thermogenic or production gas was present. EnCana purchased the Dietrich property in June 2004.In the water tested from the Amos well, COGCC found no evidence of fracturing chemicals. It also “fingerprinted” the gas in the Dietrich and Amos/Walker wells by chemical analysis, and found it similar to the gas coming from EnCana wells near those homes.”While we don’t agree with the findings, we want to avoid going through extended hearings (with the COGCC)” and agreed with the notice of violation, said EnCana spokesman Doug Hock.EnCana also reached a financial settlement with Amos, but neither Hock nor Laura Amos would comment on the amount of the settlement.Garfield County attorney Don DeFord said the county commissioners were disappointed with the amount of the fines and believed they should have been higher.”The COGCC staff consider those to be significant fines,” said COGCC director Brian Macke.The fine money can be used by Garfield County for an oil-and-gas-related project, Macke added. DeFord said the county commissioners will consider how to apply the fines.
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