Large oil producer gets first citation from health department
DENVER – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has for the first time cited an oil company for alleged erosion violations, the Rocky Mountain News and The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported.EnCana, one of the largest oil and gas producers, is accused of a failure to control contamination, inadequate erosion control and failure to stem the flow of sediment from drilling sites spread across hundreds of thousands of acres.The alleged violations in the Mamm Creek gas field south of Rifle and Silt and the Paradox Basin gas field in Montrose and San Miguel counties were described in an 11-page document given to the company.The violations were “pretty systematic” and likely would result in a monetary penalty, said Steve Gunderson, chief of the health department’s water quality division. He would not estimate the amount of fines.His department assumed control of regulation of water quality at oil sites three weeks ago, rejecting complaints from the industry that it lacked authority to do so.”I expect that EnCana will work in good faith and work well with us,” Gunderson said. “They’re a company that takes their responsibility seriously and I expect that they’ll work to improve their processes.”EnCana spokesman Doug Hock confirmed receiving notice of the alleged violations.He said that despite extensive education, some staff were not following procedures.”Initially, our people didn’t fully understand the stringent nature of what we expect and what the state of Colorado requires,” Hock said. “We are taking actions to correct the deficiencies found and bring ourselves into compliance.”In 2004 EnCana paid a $371,200 fine in 2004 for a gas seep in West Divide Creek south of Silt that contaminated a creek and other water sources. It was the largest ever issued. The commission said EnCana had improperly cemented a nearby gas well.In all, EnCana received 34 notices of alleged violations in 2004 from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, seven last year and one so far this year, according to commission figures.Scientists say failure to prevent erosion fouls waterways, harms aquatic life and disturbs soil.
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