Residents discover possible new gas seep in stock pond
A second potential gas seep is being investigated in a pond south of Silt in the Mamm Creek drainage area, three miles from the location of a seep found in West Divide Creek in early April.The new siting was discovered when some area residents noticed the bubbles as they drove by the property on the south side of what is known as Jenkin’s Cutoff Road, which connects County Road 331 and Mamm Creek Road.”The stock pond is about 50 feet off the road,” said Robert “Blackcloud” Eicher, a nearby property owner. “We were driving down the road when my daughter noticed it, and the pond was bubbling visibly from the road.”His daughter, Lisa Bracken, who has acted as a spokesperson for area property owners since the first gas seep was reported in West Divide Creek, reported the bubbles to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Monday.”I’d seen some vegetation die-off in the Mamm Creek area, and I went to see what I could see,” Bracken said.What she saw was dead pine and cedar trees and bubbles coming up from a stock pond located on property owned by Gary Hill. By Wednesday, the COGCC hired Cordilleran Compliance of Grand Junction, an independent third-party environmental consulting firm, to conduct isotopic tests and take samples from the pond to check for toxins, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX).The gas seep in West Divide Creek showed test results of higher than normal levels of BTEX. The COGCC later confirmed that the cause of the seep was due to faulty cementing of the nearby Schwartz well by EnCana Oil & Gas, and the company was issued a notice of alleged violation on April 23.Since the discovery of the Divide Creek gas seep, the company has been providing safe drinking water for area residents.EnCana has at least one well pad in the area near the pond where the new bubbles have been detected and will have its own tests conducted from the water samples taken by Cordilleran, said Walt Lowry, director of community and industry relations for the company.”We’ve been made aware of the situation,” Lowry said. “The results will tell whether it is biogenic (naturally occurring gas) or thermogenic (produced gas), but as always, we will cooperate with the COGCC on any issue.”So far, there have been no reports of any malfunctions of EnCana’s wells in the area near the pond.”EnCana has wells in that area, but none of them have been identified as having any problems at this time,” said Brian Macke, deputy director for the COGCC. “It’s not uncommon for ponds to have bubbles, and at this time we are still determining what the nature of it is.”Macke added that the COGCC is testing for water constituents, composition and isotopic analysis of any gas or hydrocarbons, as was done in West Divide Creek.Bob Chesson, environmental protection specialist for the COGCC said the report of the new bubbles is being treated as a formal complaint.”We don’t know what it is at the present time, but when we get the data back, we’ll see what it says,” Chesson said.Eicher said the gas bubbles in West Divide Creek are still ongoing but have slowed down since the completion of cementing the Schwartz well. The COGCC has reported that toxic chemicals are no longer being detected in the water.But until tests results come back, the cause of the new bubbles remains undetermined.”We’re just waiting to hear like everyone else,” Bracken said.
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