Ursa scraps injection well plan on B pad in Battlement Mesa – for now

The blue squares show the location of two well pads within the Battlement Mesa PUD where at least 53 wells will be drilled. The yellow line is the route of the 2.5 mile pipeline. Construction on the well pads is expected to begin in the 2nd quarter of 2017. [Source: Garfield County]

The blue squares show the B pad and D pad located within the Battlement Mesa PUD where at least 53 wells will be drilled. The yellow line is the route of the 2.5-mile pipeline. The plan for a wastewater injection well and 6 wastewater storage tanks at the proposed B pad has been removed from Ursa’s application to the COGCC.  [Source: Garfield County]

Thirteen words in the middle of an article in Sunday’s Denver Post, had folks in Battlement Mesa scratching their heads this week.

Colorado residents push to protect homes, river from fracking

… Ursa vice president Don Simpson said “there are already injection wells and pads closer along the river” and that waste from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, would be pumped deeper than 8,000 feet, separated from the river and communities under rock.

“This will be a good project,” Simpson said.

Ursa plans mitigation including controls on noise and dust, and has removed plans for the waste injection well from a drilling permit, he said …

These are the 13 words:

… Ursa … has removed plans for the waste injection well from a drilling permit …

Dave Devanney, co-chair of Battlement Mesa Concerned Citizens (BCC), understood it to mean that Ursa vice president Don Simpson was saying that the plan for a wastewater injection well on the proposed B pad has been removed the company’s COGCC permit application.

To recap, last December the Garfield County Commissioners approved three special use permits for Ursa Resources to drill 53 wells on 2 proposed well pads – B pad and D pad. B pad also included plans for a wastewater injection well and 6 wastewater storage tanks. Plus 2.5 miles of pipeline – all located inside the Battlement Mesa PUD. In December, Ursa submitted their applications to the COGCC.

I asked Garfield County oil & gas liaison Kirby Wynn for clarification and he replied in an email: “It is my understanding that Ursa rescinded the Form 2 (injection well application) for that injection well with COGCC. They of course could apply for an injection well in the future. Ursa would need to apply for and receive a county permit to utilize a new injection well separate and independent of any COGCC process. They have not submitted an application to the county.”

Leslie Robinson, chair of Grand Valley Citizens Alliance (GVCA), reported to From the Styx that GVCA/BCC attorney Matt Sura said the reason for Ursa scrapping the plan for the injection well was based on a technicality related to the company not submitting the proper forms with their application.

Robinson added, “It’s been removed on a technicality; but like Frankenstein, the B Pad injection well could be revived.”

In reference to the injection well in the article Simpson issued a vague warning: “If you don’t have an injection well site, you’re going to have increased trucking.”

Last year, Ursa added a wastewater injection well to the Watson pad which is located outside the Battlement Mesa PUD. So the question is, why can’t they use the existing injection well?

According to Battlement resident and retired engineer Bob Arrington the injection well and storage tanks planned for the proposed B pad would also be needed.

“Ursa can only put so much back in the ground and at controlled pressures,” Bob explained. “They have to have enough pressure to overcome the latent pressure of the formation plus enough to force the waste into the porosity of the rock and try not to frac the rock. They screwed up and put the injection well on the county plan. We now know it is a separate application. They were told to take it off with changes to the PUD requested and needed, as per old rules from when the county granted the PUD.

“What needs to be determined is the question of the two large basement faults — one along the river and the other south along the Battlements — and whether they are part of a DeBeque block fault. A quake on this could ‘liquefy’ the old slide material Battlement is built on and destroy many, many home sites. There is a reason the county never mapped this part for hazards. Later BOCC folks knew the previous boneheads that allowed Exxon to build the place was as wrong as what they allowed to be built in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Arrington continued, “Look at injection wells, the waste does not stay put. It will flow to lower pressure zones and faults play the role of superhighways. They can put pipelines to the Speakman pad [a well pad located outside the Battlement Mesa PUD] and truck it from there! They don’t need to truck in the PUD. Just look at the treatment facility Williams built and tank farm locations, plus pipelines.”

The DP article reminded readers that officials from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) warned the COGCC that the 6 storage tanks at the proposed injection well site “creates a significant contamination risk to the public water supply” as well as the Colorado River and surrounding wetlands.

In a February 29 letter to COGCC’s Matt Lepore, CDPHE oil & gas liaison Kent Kuster said this about the location of a Class II injection well on the proposed B well pad:

URSA’s BMC B well pad includes a Class II injection well with six produced water storage tanks that the Department believes creates a significant contamination risk to the public water supply for Battlement Mesa. The Battlement Mesa Water Treatment Plant has a raw water intake structure in close proximity to this proposed well pad creating an unnecessary long-term risk for a spill or release to potentially impact the public water supply. This risk will persist for many years, and will continue as additional well sites are developed in Battlement Mesa area. There are options available when determining a location for a Class II injection well and the Department believes Class II injection wells should not be located in Urban Mitigation Areas.

After considering the long-term risk to the public water supply and the flexibility available to the Operator when locating Class II injection wells the Department recommends that the COGCC deny the permit for the injection well and the associated storage tanks on the URSA BMC B well pad.

Dave Devanney said, “If the experts at CDPHE feel that an injection well with six large storage tanks has no place in a UMA and near a public drinking water supply, that’s good enough for me. I think the CDPHE position has imposed the kiss of death on [the injection well] issue.”

**********

Colorado residents push to protect homes, river from fracking

PARACHUTE — Colorado residents fighting new oil and gas development — 53 wells and a fracking waste facility on the banks of the Colorado River — have turned to an untested state rule in a last-ditch push for protection.

The proposed Ursa Resources wells here, drilled within 1,000 feet of Battlement Mesa homes, also would be near a public water system and a state wildlife area.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials have raised concerns, warning that six storage tanks at the waste injection facility “creates a significant contamination risk to the public water supply” and that a spill could hurt wetlands and the river.

“A ban on fracking? Most of us aren’t after that. But we want responsible siting,” said Battlement Mesa resident Bill Nelson, whose retirement home sits 846 feet from the proposed drilling …

… Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission director Matt Lepore now must decide how much “mitigation” is appropriate to offset health and environmental harm.

“We are evaluating best practices (and) are cognizant” of CDPHE concerns, Lepore said.

“We wrote a rule that we think gives us the opportunity to put strong mitigation measures in place for large facilities in urban mitigation areas,” he said. “We will use the rule as it was intended.”

Ursa vice president Don Simpson said “there are already injection wells and pads closer along the river” and that waste from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, would be pumped deeper than 8,000 feet, separated from the river and communities under rock.

“This will be a good project,” Simpson said.

Ursa plans mitigation including controls on noise and dust, and has removed plans for the waste injection well from a drilling permit, he said.

“If you don’t have an injection well site, you’re going to have increased trucking,” Simpson said.

The residents in western Colorado and the northern Front Range are pressing their cases amid rising tensions around oil and gas drilling. The new development would bring Colorado’s statewide well count to more than 53,683 active wells and 40,000 inactive wells. Community groups are gathering signatures for ballot initiatives aimed at establishing 2,500-foot buffers and boosting local power to regulate oil and gas activity near people …

… Matt Sura, an attorney challenging the industry projects in Parachute and Greeley, said the COGCC should be using the new rule “to address the handful of large facilities proposed within neighborhoods to move these facilities as far as possible from homes and, if they cannot be moved, require best available technologies to mitigate the impacts to the greatest extent possible.

“Gov. Hickenlooper’s legacy on oil and gas issues is tied to the way this rule is applied to neighborhoods,” Sura said. “If the Hickenlooper administration fails to protect neighborhoods from the worst impacts of oil and gas development, then the people would be right to decide that the system is broken and needs to be changed through the citizen initiatives.”

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