Garfield County commissioners concerned about plans to drill near Prather spring |

Garfield County commissioners concerned about plans to drill near Prather spring

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The Garfield County commissioners are worried about a gas company’s plans to drill in the same area where a man fell gravely ill after drinking polluted water two years ago.

And the commissioners may request a formal hearing on the matter before the state’s oil and gas regulators if the plans are approved.

Marathon Oil Co. has applied for a permit to drill in the area near a spring that supplies water to a hunting cabin owned by Ned Prather in western Garfield County, where in May 2008, Prather got sick after drinking what later proved to be benzene-tainted water from the spring.

Benzene is known to cause cancer and is one of many chemical byproducts of the gas drilling process.

The contamination remains under investigation, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has narrowed the list of possible responsible parties to the Williams and OXY USA gas drilling companies, which had wells either near the Prather spring or another affected spring in the area.

Marathon was at one time on the list of suspected companies, but was cleared of responsibility for the Prather contamination last year.

Still, the county commissioners directed the oil and gas liaison, Judy Jordan, to let the COGCC know of Garfield County’s ongoing concerns about the Prather contamination and about any further drilling in the area.

Commissioner John Martin said that, if the state agency grants Marathon’s requested permit, it may be necessary for the county to ask for a formal hearing before the COGCC on the issue.

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