Oil and gas auditor’s job is the pits

Lynn BurtonPost Independent Staff

Garfield County’s new oil and gas auditor saw his first field action recently, and his performance drew applause from a Silt area resident.”It was amazing,” said Nancy Jacobsen, who lives at 6538 County Road 331. “His response was beyond my expectations.”Doug Dennison is the county’s first oil and gas auditor, hired to serve as a liaison between the oil and gas industry, residents and county government.Jacobsen’s husband, Gary Gagne, called Dennison two weeks ago to complain about reclamation work EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) was doing on a waste pit on County Road 331. Dennison left his Rifle office late in the afternoon and investigated.Dennison said he found EnCana workers improperly reclaiming the pit, which was built to hold spent drilling mud, drill cuttings, and wastewater created during the drilling process.Dennison said EnCana should have pumped much of the liquid from the pit, then started “squeezing” the mud to further remove the liquids so they could be hauled away.Instead, according to Jacobsen, EnCana bulldozer operators were simply shoving dirt into the pit, which she described as half the length of Glenwood Hot Springs Pool.”They were not working in accordance with normal procedure,” Dennison said.When Dennison contacted the workers, they stopped working, then called for pumper trucks to start sucking out the liquids. The reclamation work continued the next day.Jacobsen said her main concern with not removing the water was potential pollution to the groundwater. “There’s a natural spring not far away,” she said.EnCana spokeswoman Sherry Long said the company could have let the liquids evaporate from the lined pit, since the company has one year to reclaim the pit. But company officials decided to cover the hole because it’s near a school bus stop, and “an eyesore,” she said.”We decided to reclaim the pit right away,” Long said.As of May 1, EnCana had filled the pit to within two feet of original ground level, and will finish the job by seeding the site, Long said.Dennison said it’s up to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission field engineer Jaime Adkins, and his bosses in Denver, to issue a formal complaint over the incident.”I don’t have any enforcement authority,” Dennison said.Jacobsen wants a citation issued. “I’ll go all the way to Denver if I have to,” she said.Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext.

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