Garfield County Commissioner Martin says he won’t object to burying pit liners | PostIndependent.com
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Garfield County Commissioner Martin says he won’t object to burying pit liners

John ColsonPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A Garfield County official has indicated he sees no problems with a gas industry proposal to dispose of controversial “pit liners” by burying them on private property in the high country.”I’m not going to object to it,” declared Commissioner John Martin at the Board of County Commissioners meeting on Monday.But Commissioner Mike Samson appeared a little troubled by Martin’s statement, and suggested the matter should be discussed in a meeting planned for later this week.Commissioner Trsi Houpt, who serves on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that oversees oil and gas drilling in the state, did not take part in the discussion.The matter came up when county attorney Don DeFord announced that the COGCC will be meeting to talk about the pit liners issue next week in Denver.The liners are thick, impermeable membranes used to hold fluids of different types in pits near drilling rigs. Gas drilling companies want to bury the liners after finishing with the pits, but critics contend that would raise the potential of groundwater pollution by a variety of toxins that often cling to the material.And, since Garfield County has signed on as an “interested party,” with standing to comment on the proposal, DeFord wanted to know whether the commissioners would be sending a representative to comment formally on the matter.”I’ve got a meeting with the mayors … on the hearing day,” said Samson, asking whether Martin would be able to go.Yes, he would, Martin replied, and then described how he would testify.”I think the change is fine the way it is,” he said.The Colorado Petroleum Association, an industry lobbying group, has asked the COGCC to permit the disposal of pit liners “onsite” on “noncrop lands and nonirrigated crop lands,” according to an application provided to Garfield County.Such disposal was allowed on nonirrigated lands prior to the enactment of new regulations.The current rules, adopted by the COGCC in 2008, call for removal and disposal of pit liners in an appropriate landfill facility. Unfortunately for the industry, Garfield County has banned disposal of pit liners as too potentially hazardous, bulky and hard to handle.Garfield County landfill officials have said the few liners they have accepted were covered in a sludge of unknown origin and composition, were difficult to work with and too bulky to easily be buried at the landfill site.According to the proposed change to the rules, as stated in a filing document, the gas drilling operators would get written permission from the surface landowners involved; remove all “free liquids and non-E&P [exploration and production] wastes” from the pit itself; backfill the pits to close to the original contours of the land; and issue a formal notice of where the liner is buried and other pertinent data, to become part of an “indexed database” open to public inspection.The liners are thick, impermeable membranes used to hold fluids in pits near drilling rigs. After Samson said he wanted to discuss the commissioners’ position in greater detail before sending Martin off to Denver, the two agreed to take the matter up again on Wednesday, following a previously scheduled meeting about the county’s land-use code.The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the regular commissioners meeting room, 108 Eighth St. in Glenwood Springs.jcolson@postindependent.com


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