BLM, oil companies try to preserve rock art
SALT LAKE CITY ” The Bureau of Land Management this summer is testing out a dust suppressant in Nine Mile Canyon near Price, hoping to find a way to mitigate the impacts of dust on ancient rock art.
Trucks working gas fields in the area kick up dust as they drive through the canyon, raising concerns for thousands of irreplaceable petroglyphs and pictographs in the area.
The BLM, county officials and Denver-based Bill Barrett Corp. are trying out a dust suppressant that could replace magnesium chloride, which has shown to be corrosive in other environments.
The product, called Pennzsuppress D, contains materials similar to pine resin and soap that’s able to penetrate dirt and keep moisture away. It doesn’t require water and doesn’t have to be sprayed on the road surface.
“It looks like it has potential. It looks good. I am cautiously optimistic,” said Pam Miller, chairwoman of the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, a conservation group that wants to preserve rock art in the canyon.
For five years, road crews have sprayed large quantities of magnesium chloride to help control dust from trucks working the West Tavaputs development.
The mixture keeps the dust down but also clings to nearby rock and saps moisture from the air. It also requires a lot of water for repeated sprayings.
“You end up taking a lot of water from the creek,” said Duane Zavadil, Bill Barrett’s vice president for government and regulatory affairs.
Jason Pierce, whose family-owned Golden West Industries in Price uses Pennzsuppress D, said the company is testing for any effects to rock art should a breeze lift the product onto the rock walls.
The California Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 certified Pennzsuppress D for dust control, saying that used properly, it would reduce fugitive dust from unpaved roads without harming water quality.
Meanwhile, the BLM is continuing a larger environmental impact study on the possibility of expanding gas development in the area.
The project, if approved, would involve drilling 800 gas wells over about 30 years, dramatically increasing truck traffic through for several years.
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