Letter: Battlement concerns dismissed
The current struggle in Battlement Mesa involves a new dimension that is being felt in other Colorado communities.
An oil and gas operator wishes to drill within close proximity to residential homes. Immediately, issues involving health, safety and well-being arise. The well-being is primarily involved with “nuisances.” Nuisances involve noise, odors, fumes, vibration, lights, dust and flaring. But there are the other effects such as damaged infrastructure, property values and crime.
Health and safety involves toxic vapors of chemicals, hydrocarbons/volatile organic compounds (VOCs)/hydrogen sulfide, particulates, fires, explosions, blowouts, pipeline failures, transport spills, traffic hazards and evacuation to catastrophic accident spread. In most of these issues, one of the most important practical solutions is mitigation of the threats to health, safety and well-being by increased distance from the drill sites to homes.
Other communities have negotiated this distance with operators because the technology has advanced to accommodate further offset drilling, but here in Battlement, it has been dismissed. So far, the only reason seems to be the added cost, as other explanations appear to be very questionable. There are already sites built that could be used to drill to the remaining gas resources, but the operator is looking at five new sites, through the middle of Battlement, that allow shorter drilling reach (less cost) with lesser equipment (smaller rigs).
The operator has not given a comprehensive plan for the entire project nor submitted adequate mitigations and safety needs to address concerns of residents of Battlement.
These were some of the shortcomings to the application for special use permitting that Battlement citizens addressed in the first Garfield County Planning Commission meeting.
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