Proposed Drilling at Union Reservoir

Drilling is being proposed around Union Reservoir by TOP Operating (same company responsible for the Rider 1 Well Contamination along with others in the area)

From the November 15, 2011, City Council Study Session:

“…the City has been working with one of the mineral lease holders, TOP Operating, to establish locations for five consolidated well sites on City owned properties where TOP is the owner of the mineral lease. The proposed consolidated well sites are being reviewed by the Water Board, the Board of Environmental Affairs and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Commission.”

Concurrently, the City is working on its Master Plan for Union Reservoir which includes expansion on the north, east and west sides, as well as a soft surface trail around the lake. Take a look at how the proposed pads overlay on the master plan map. Apparently, future visitors will get an up close view of two very large drilling operations as they enjoy their walk around the lake.

Below is a submittal from the citizens around Union Reservoir to the City of Longmont regarding proposed gas drilling sites around Union Reservoir and the concerns they have.

RESOURCES:
Map (pdf) of the proposed locations.

Union Reservoir Draft Recreational Master Plan (Sept 2011)
Location of proposed pads superimposed over Draft Master Plan


TO : CITY OF LONGMONT  c/o Brien Schumacher
FROM:  CITIZENS OF UNION RESERVOIR
RE: CONCERNS OF OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT AROUND UNION RESERVOIR
DATE: DECEMBER 12, 2011

INTRODUCTION

The Oil and Gas Conservation Act does not totally preempt a home-rule city’s exercise of land-use authority over Oil and Gas Development and Operations within the territorial limits of the city. We believe there is a human element, as well as a cumulative effect, of the Oil & Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing industry that affects citizens and is not currently addressed by the State of Colorado and COGCC.  At this point, it is widely accepted that most damage and contamination occurs near the surface.  Due to it’s lack of accountability, there is no other industry allowed to severely risk property values, public health, environment, and local jobs, to the extent the Oil and Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing process does, and therefore this needs to be addressed.

PROPERTY VALUES

We believe the property values of residents and City of Longmont will decline where there is a concentration of industrial activity from Oil & Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing, consistent with those seen across the state and country.  We believe the area around Union Reservoir will be a ‘heavily fracked’ area over the next decade if this industrial activity is allowed in City of Longmont jurisdiction.  Screening and aesthetic change must be considered  to protect property values, with regard to consolidation of wells near schools,  residential zoning, and inside recreation areas.  Who incurs the costs?  Will the City experience a direct loss of revenue from fees for recreation and events at Union Reservoir, in relation to Oil & Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing? What is the projected total of wells to be considered around Union Reservoir over the next decade or two. “In recent years, landowners in heavily ‘fracked’ parts of the county, like Garfield County Colorado, have seen property values plummet. Retirees, like Dee Hoffmeister and Lisa Bracken, have experienced this first hand. Both of their families have found themselves powerless to pursue any recourse at recovering the damage done to their personal assets." NYT 11/19/11.

TRANSPORTATION

We believe the current proposed accessibility for the Eckel, Steinke, or Bogott property will need improvements and therefore are subject to  investigation and compensation. There will need to be upgrades to existing transportation on WCR 1 infrastructure to accommodate heavy truck traffic. We need a comprehensive study of these impacts on the roads over time, given that if the industry is allowed in City limits, there will be more wells drilled and fracked than the current proposal, in this area.  Also, we do not believe the State of Colorado or COGCC address hazardous commercial vehicle access and proximity to residential housing, schools, and recreation areas. What happens if one of these trucks accidentally hits an occupied residence in transit, given the proximity to dwellings on the current proposal? Are these people evacuated prior to transport?  Do we know what hazardous chemicals will be transported in City limits?

INSURANCE and INDEMNITY

Potential damage costs associated with a hazardous spills needs to be assessed. We believe there should be a requirement for insurance above and beyond what is currently required by the State of Colorado or the COGCC, especially if the applicant has a past history of several violations. The City of Longmont must demand a Indemnity Bond to guarantee sufficient indemnification for all loss that could be sustained as a result of reduced value or damage to property and environment.  We believe that the applicant should be required to carry a cash Reclamation Bond, that would guarantee the eventual clean-up of any and all damage caused by Oil and Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing, returning the site to its natural, pre-development condition, particularly if the applicant has a history of contaminations and violations. Will there be Development Bonds regarding public infrastructure improvements necessitated by the Drilling, Hydraulic Fracturing, Hauling, and related Construction activities?

DISCLOSURE

Current Federal, State, and COGCC regulations do not allow for full disclosure of chemicals and concentrations used in the Oil & Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing process. We believe this puts all life at risk if an accident were to occur and treatment were necessary for contamination.  Are contaminations, such as COGCC Complaint #1433445/Remediation #3743, reported to the city, school, or adjacent properties?  We believe that all records pertaining to all wells shall always be kept available for public record, due to the longevity of the wells.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

There will need to be education and training with regard to local authorities knowledge of contamination procedures concerning toxic chemicals used.  Who is responsible for these costs? Particular attention should be given, due to the proximity to schools, dwellings, and location on City of Longmont public recreation areas with proposed trails. All locations on the current proposal will combine for higher concentration of pedestrian traffic adjacent to the industrial activity, as compared to rural, private property. Reverse 911 for chemical spills?

Do we know what hazardous chemicals will be allowed in City limits?

SETBACKS

Current setback mandates by The State of Colorado and COGCC are not sufficient to protect surface property owners or occupants from Oil and Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing.  Current regulation, allowing concentration of industrial activity, with regard to consolidated well pads, and the proximity to dwellings, schools, water source, and recreation areas, puts human life at risk.  See attached submittal from the United States Department of Labor, OSHA guidelines, regarding potential hazards involved with Oil and Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing.  If there were an accident during any part of the process, are the setbacks sufficient to protect children playing 50’ away on adjacent properties? Clearly, this is an industrial activity, concentrated, with regard to consolidation of wells.  There needs to be much larger setbacks from adjacent properties and dwellings when proposed next to residential areas, schools, water source, and recreation areas. The City of Longmont needs to study, ‘What is the safe distance?’, regarding this industry and it’s concentration effects with regard to well consolidation.

AIR, SOIL, WATER, MONITORING

We believe this industry to have many potential health side effects related to air, soil, and water contamination.  We do not believe that current Federal , State of Colorado, or COGCC  regulations adequately cover the air, soil,  and water pollution, with regard to Oil and Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing.  We are concerned that we, as citizens adjacent to this concentrated industrial activity,  will bear the costs of the oversight shortcomings with our health.  We also believe current contamination level acceptability for several hazardous chemicals(See Table 910-1 of COGCC rules),  with regard to air, soil, and water pollution, by Federal, State of Colorado, and COGCC are insufficient, as it relates to the Oil and Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing industry.   Especially in close proximity to schools, residences, and public recreation areas.  Clear and accurate information on accessibility to  air, soil, and water tests must be provided to adjacent property owners and schools, with sufficient time, to accumulate a baseline inventory of air, soil, and water composition, prior to any commencement of drilling, if they choose to have independent testing done.   We need a soil, air, and water baseline inventory to assess long term changes in the soil , water, and air around proposed well sites by the applicant or City of Longmont.  We would like multiple samples of air taken at all places of interest and in the breathing zone of the exposed population.  Emission monitoring for VOC’s, road dust, and ozone flare are necessary throughout the process of Oil and Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing process.  There is limited toxicological data and an unavailability of accepted inhalation toxicity values for 65 out of 86 detected contaminants in the air.  Must we get sick to prove toxicity?  We believe this project should be funded with profits, projected or realized, relating to Oil and Gas exploration.   The City of Longmont should mandate closed loop systems.  The City of Longmont should require the usage of nontoxic, green chemicals for the Stimulation process.  An increase of engineered monitoring wells for those applicants that have a history of contamination and poor remediation are necessary.  Storm water runoff rules, given the proximities to watersheds, are necessary.  We believe it is clear, there is not enough emphasis by the Federal Government, the State of Colorado and COGCC regarding these issues. Evidence of this is can be seen by  attached COGCC Complaint #1433445 and Remediation #3743. We believe it is incumbent upon the City of Longmont or other profiteer of Oil and Gas exploration on City of Longmont property, to fund a local, independent scientific study, regarding information we can gain about side effects from this industry , given the large sums of profits.

LIGHT AND NOISE MONITORING

We do not believe the current State of Colorado, COGCC, or local laws adequately cover  light or noise pollution created during Oil and Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing near residential areas, schools, or recreation areas.

OVERSIGHT

It is clear, based on the amount of wells in this region, current and projected, and number of COGCC inspectors, engineers, permitters, and environmental managers, per region, that there is not enough oversight.  It is clear, upon review of attached Complaint #1433445/Remediation # 3743, that there is a lack of follow up and implementation of remediation by the COGCC when contamination occurs.   Current COGCC inspections only occur, on average, once every 3 years. This is unacceptable, particularly in residential, school, and public access recreation areas, where there is a higher concentration of human population, or next to a water source.  Even when the contamination is above legal limits and remediation is demanded, records reveal a clear lack of attention and enforcement by COGCC. Evidence seen by Remediation #3743  puts school children, water table, and property values at risk. Will the city be obligated to incur the expense of hiring additional staff to regularly inspect the oil well activities and sites?  Who will be inspecting? How often? How can we demand faster remediation if there is an accident?  If the offending activity is not witnessed while it’s occurring, then no penalties can be imposed.

TRACING

We believe there should be a benign element introduced to the chemicals used during the Oil & Gas Drilling and Hydraulic fracturing process to identify the proprietor, if there were a contamination to occur. This element is particularly important to consider when the applicant has a history of violation.

BAD ACTOR

We do not believe that there should be any approval of  a proposal where the applicant has shown negligence in remediation. 906.a and 906.d of COGCC rules.  We do not believe that there should be any approval of  a proposal where the applicant has had previous contamination within the City of Longmont. The applicant should be reputable in all areas of public activity, including credit ratings, harassment violations, workman’s compensation cases, construction health and safety compliance, regulatory requirements, and any legal issues. This is an industrial activity that puts Citizens lives in danger when shortcuts occur.

ZONING

We believe current zoning to be inconsistent with the proposed consolidated pad on Parcel 120536400011 and surroundings.  There needs to be a higher standard with respect to location  of consolidated drill pads and their effect on overall surroundings.   We believe there will be a drop in property values for those existing homes adjacent to where PUD-R zoning would need to be changed to accommodate Oil and Gas Drilling and Hydraulic fracturing at this site.

QUALITY OF LIFE

We believe any acceptance of Oil and Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing around Union Reservoir is a compromise of the citizens quality of life.  One of the benchmark standards for quality of life, nationally, regionally, and locally, is the accessibility to open space and recreation areas.  Approval of any industrial activity in these designated areas, restricts that access, therefore, compromises quality of life.  Current State of Colorado and COGCC regulations do not account for this, but we believe local authority should.

CHILD HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS

Given the proposed proximity to residence, schools, and public trails, with regard to consolidation of industrial activity, the many physical differences between children and adults demand special emphasis. A child’s lower body weight and higher intake rate results in a greater dose of hazardous substance per unit of body weight. They could be at greater risk than adults from certain kinds of exposure to hazardous substances. Children play outdoors and sometimes engage in hand-to-mouth behaviors that increase their exposure potential. Children are shorter than are adults; this means they breathe dust, soil, and vapors close to the ground. If toxic exposure levels are high enough during critical growth stages, the developing body systems of children can sustain permanent damage. Finally, children are dependent on adults for access to housing, for access to medical care, and for risk identification. Thus, adults need as much information as possible to make informed decisions regarding their children’s health.

MACROECOLOGY

All living things fail without water.  Under current Federal, State of Colorado, and COGCC laws and guidelines, the hydraulic fracturing industry fails to address long term consequences of enormous amounts of water contamination.  We are contaminating one finite resource we cannot substitute, in water, for another resource, in gas, we can substitute.  This industry should not be allowed to continue without research into how to successfully decontaminate water, with regard to chemicals used in the Oil & Gas Hydraulic Fracturing process, or demand usage of green chemicals.  The City of Longmont should mandate green completions.

CONCLUSION

This letter does not preclude our neighborhood from submitting further issues, given the fast rate at which the City of Longmont is choosing to proceed with its analysis and judgment of the Oil & Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing process allowed in city limits. We believe current Federal, State of Colorado, local and COGCC rules and laws do not protect its Citizens, with regard to Oil and Gas drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing.  We believe the City of Longmont should immediately suspend the acceptance of applications for permits for oil and gas development for 6 months, so that the aforementioned issues can be fully vetted and that municipal codes can be adopted to resolve the issues. We believe the City of Longmont should suspend all Oil & Gas Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing development within our community for 6 months.  We believe the City of Longmont should immediately create and pass a Municipal Ordinance that establishes the inalienable right of the City of Longmont citizens and electorate to control, ban, and outlaw Oil and Gas well activities within our Municipality.  Cost of doing business should not severely risk property values, public health, environment, and local jobs.  We urge the City of Longmont to protect our Civil Rights.

Submitted 12/12/11

Citizens of Union Reservoir