Letter: Dangers of Ursa’s plans | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Dangers of Ursa’s plans

Ursa Resources Co. is seeking Garfield County approval of its plan to drill 53 gas wells on two drill pads, as well as a wastewater injection well, and about two and one-half miles of gas pipeline in the Battlement Mesa PUD. This is only Phase 1 of the plan. Ultimately, it appears their plans will include five or more well pads, more injection wells and more pipelines. This work will include drilling, fracking, completion and production at these pads to harvest natural gas from the more shallow strata of gas producing shale. Eventually they will return to the PUD to drill for the gas in the deeper strati. Such heavy industrial operations are clearly not compatible with a residential community and will depress the community for the long term.

The two drill pads proposed in phase 1 pose a serious threat to the homes located upslope from them. These are the same steep, tinder-dry slopes that burned in the late 1990s and destroyed or damaged several homes. Children playing with matches at the base started the fire. A fire here will move swiftly up the slope, especially if aided by Battlement Mesa’s frequent strong upslope winds. The threat of ignition and other hazards is real. For example, the Grand Valley Fire District responded to 16 fire and explosion incidents, 27 vehicle accidents and nine hazardous materials incidents within the district between Jan. 1, 2004, and Oct. 4, 2009. The Rifle Fire District responded to 423 incidents involving the gas industry including 53 fires and explosions and 111 hazardous materials incidents between Jan. 1, 2004, and Dec. 9, 2009. Should this really be in our neighborhood — near our homes?

Harvesting our natural gas resources is an inherently dangerous and risky operation despite best management practices and multiple safety precautions. It should not be allowed in a residential community such as Battlement Mesa. I urge our county commissioners to protect us from these risks by disapproving Ursa’s application. Please do not relegate Battlement Mesa to Garfield County’s throwaway community.

Richard Buchan

Battlement Mesa

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