Garfield commissioners endorse plan to drill in old nuclear test site | SummitDaily.com

Garfield commissioners endorse plan to drill in old nuclear test site

The Associated Press

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Garfield County Commissioners have endorsed a request by an energy company to drill near the site of an underground nuclear explosion detonated in 1969.

Presco Inc. wants to drill within a half-mile buffer zone established around the Project Rulison site. Only the surface area could be disturbed inside the zone, and the well bottom would be outside the zone.

Presco has asked the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for a waiver of a rule prohibiting natural gas drilling within the buffer zone.

The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ruled in February 2004 that Presco could not drill within the zone without approval from the U.S. Department of Energy because of concerns about potential radioactive contamination.

Project Rulison was designed to free natural gas from oil shale, but it was too radioactive to be sold commercially.

On Monday, the county commissioners signed a letter to the oil and gas commission supporting Presco’s request.

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County Commissioner Tresi Houpt said she opposed the plan but signed the letter because it was a majority decision of the three-member board.

County Commissioner John Martin said none of the three commissioners wants to see drilling in the buffer zone, but endorsing the plan “is one way to sit down at the table and talk to them about what would be the safeguards.”