Curveball thrown in Project Rulison nuclear drilling case | SummitDaily.com

Curveball thrown in Project Rulison nuclear drilling case

Donna Gray
garfield county correspondent

GARFIELD COUNTY ” Presco, the natural gas production company that wishes to drill in the vicinity of the Project Rulison nuclear blast, threw Garfield County a curveball last week.

The county was under the impression it had an agreement with Presco to drill one well from the surface inside the half-mile buffer zone around the blast site; however, in a letter dated May 24, Presco’s attorney William Keefe said not only does the company disagree with the condition imposed by the county, but it now wants to drill four wells in the buffer zone.

In a special meeting Wednesday morning, the commissioners reacted strongly to the latest development in an ongoing case.

“We can spend another $400,000 and go to battle to oppose the four wells,” said Commissioner Larry McCown. “I’m really torn where to go with this.”

“I felt we had come to terms (with Presco) to share information, do the analysis for one year… I thought we had a gentleman’s agreement and they need to stand on it,” said Commissioner John Martin.

Under the terms of the agreement, the commissioners agreed to:

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-lift its opposition to Presco’s plan to drill a well from the surface in the buffer zone, but the bottom of the well would not be in the zone.

– In turn, Presco would withdraw its application to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to increase drilling density to 40 acres on the surface and 10 acres underground, which would have put it within the 500-acre buffer zone. Presco would also submit all its drilling data to the county, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and the COGCC.

In 1969, the federal government set off a proton bomb underground to see whether the explosion could free natural gas from sandstone formations. The test was considered a failure because of the radioactivity in the gas. Since then, federal and state governments have said nearby gas drilling doesn’t present a danger.

At the end of the meeting, the commissioners voted to reject the four-well plan and stand by the previous agreement. Houpt voted against the motion.