Pipeline release concerns West Divide residents
garfield county correspondent
RIFLE ” An early-morning natural-gas pipeline release of a harmless gas awakened and frightened some residents in the West Divide Creek area south of Silt in late April.
The release sent a plume of “gray, gunky stuff” high into the air and then over some of the homes, said resident Lisa Bracken.
A Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission official called the incident a “fairly normal thing.”
“This thing was so loud it was like a freight train,” Bracken said in an E-mail, “and you could see the gunky stuff coming out and shooting up into the air.”
Crews for a company called Orion had finished pressure-testing a recently-completed 4.5-mile-long pipeline, a process that uses nitrogen, according to Gary Heigeland of the oil and gas commission.
“They had not had any leaks, so they released the nitrogen, which is an inert, harmless gas,” he said. “There were no hydrocarbons at all.”
“The gunk went into the air for at least 30 minutes before finally subsiding and then only (nitrogen) gas was blowing out,” Bracken wrote.
The incident, on land owned by EnCana Oil and Gas, lasted from around 7:30 a.m. to about 8:15 a.m., she said.
“It’s noisy and concerning when that happens,” Heigeland said. “I would have been concerned, too.”
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