( – promoted by Colorado Pols)
In 1969, the United States Department of Energy detonated a nuclear explosive device a few thousand feet underground, just a couple of miles up the creek from Battlement Mesa. The DOEs’ attempt at “Mega-Fraccing” didn’t work the way the DOE had hoped and after flaring off nearly 800 million cubic feet of radioactive gas, they shut down the site and went away. What remained, however, was an underground cavity full of radiation and, among other creatures, the people of Battlement Mesa and Parachute.
Fast forward 35 years and witness the arrival of the natural gas boom in the Piceance basin. Natural gas producers, eager to capitalize on the skyrocketing price of gas, began drilling ever closer to the site of the 1969 blast. After repeated requests by local landowners and citizens to prohibit drilling near the radioactive blast site, the Department of Energy and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission continue to play “Rulison Roulette” with the safety and health of the people of Battlement Mesa, Parachute and the surrounding area.
Basing their assurances of safety on DOE computer models that are outdated and incomplete, the COGCC refuses to insist on real, exploratory, research before continuing to issue drilling permits ever closer to “ground zero”. Garfield County, on the other hand has finally seen enough evidence that the Garfield County Commissioners have asked the DOE to reconsider its’ policy and define the nature and extent of the contamination in an open, public process that is based on information gathered at the site and considered in a thorough scientific inquiry.
It is time for the DOE to put aside 40 years of neglect and take on the responsibility to clean up their mess. As it now stands, there is no adequate scientific basis upon which to establish a safe perimeter for drilling and fraccing around the site. The arbitrary half mile restriction is little more than an educated guess.
I completely agree with the Garfield County Commissioners and join them also in their request to Colorados’ congressional delegation to push for a full, formal inquiry into the policies and activities of the DOEs’ Office of Legacy Management, and to address the question of the DOEs’ refusal to implement a sound and safe development plan based on actual data provided by real research.
The COGCC has announced a hearing in Glenwood Springs on July 15th ( location and time TBA) and has promised that the DOEs’ soon-to- be-released “The Way Forward Plan” will be discussed. Local citizens are likely to turn out in force to see if the new DOE plan is any less insane than the current “Rulison Roulette” plan.