On December 13, Tommy Thompson hosted a tour of the gasfield surrounding his home near Porcupine Creek. Once a pristine hidden valley, the area is now an Encana industrial zone. Where elk and deer used to roam freely and, along with the local property owners, lived quietly enjoying the clean air and water. Now the land is cluttered with well pads, pipelines, tanks, compressors, and trucks, trucks, and more trucks. Photos don’t really capture the magnitude of the environmental destruction.
Read my description of the tour at Adventures in Gasland.
Tour of valley near Rifle attracts people wary of drilling effects — by Dennis Webb
Driving in on CR 320, just before the turn off to Porcupine Creek Road, everyone was greeted by this well pad under construction on the north side of the road.
Our tour group gathered for interviews near Encana’s private parking lot at the intersection of CR 320 and Porcupine Creek Road.
First stop on the tour, about a mile up Porcupine Creek Road we turned onto an access road. But the road to Porcupine Creek is blocked. The green fence in this photo was just installed last Wednesday — the day before the tour.
The mountainside is a maze of well pad access roads like this one. Before drilling these roads did not exist. Encana has built them over the past ten years. Surface rights owners have no choice but to sign agreements with the gas companies that include roads like this one, which crosses Porcupine Creek. Our group walked around the fence and past a well pad to the creek.
Below, this is what’s left of Porcupine Creek, looking upstream, after Encana installed the culvert under the road which was inadequate to handle the spring runoff in 2011. The culvert clogged up with debris and the creek bed flooded destroying the banks. Encana then “repaired” the creek bed with rocks and boulders. Click here to read more about Tommy Thompson’s dispute with Encana over Porcupine Creek.
Porcupine Creek, looking downstream, from the culvert on the access road.
Porcupine Creek, looking down stream toward the northeast, there is more industry activity. Could be a fuel station, new pad, or new access road, or all of the above.
Heading back down Porcupine Road, on the right side of the road is this attractive scrapyard littered with empty tanks.
As bad as this looks, it was recently cleaned up for the tour. This area looked much worse when Tod and I toured Porcupine Creek Road on December 2. On that day the green tanks were tipped on their side or upside down and scattered helter skelter behind the fence. Here you can see the tanks have been set upright and moved off the roadway.
Continuing down Porcupine Road on the left visitors can see this enormous well pad containing multiple well heads, condensate tanks and separators. The COGCC and industry would have us believe this type of well spacing reduces impact on the environment.
Further down from the massive well pad, on the right side of the road there’s a compressor station. The sound is like a jet engine.
Just below the surface of this mountainside industrial zone there’s a network of pipelines. In the simplest terms, all the liquids from the wells flow through the pipelines and end up at this tank farm for separation into gas, crude oil and other marketable by-products, plus wastewater and what the truck drivers call “NBS” — nasty black shit — nobody knows what it is.
Tanker trucks of all shapes and sizes roll in and out of this facility 24/7 hauling out the various products and wastes. None of the tanks on the trucks are labeled for contents. Quite often the truck drivers have no clue what’s in them. Most of the drivers don’t wear respirators or gas masks.
This is the end of my gasfield tour. To discover the surprise waiting for me at the private parking lot read Adventures in gasland.
For more photos go to the Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights facebook page.