Letter: Protect residents near drilling
December 10, 2014
I lived up Divide Creek south of Silt on and off from 1985 until 2001. I had a beautiful 100-acre hay farm I bought in 1998, and I was prepared to build my dream place on it and raise horses. I built a large riding arena, put up corrals and was designing my house when I noticed I was having headaches every morning for about six hours. At that point I was living down the road in my old house, next to seven gas wells. One was almost on the property line. Whenever they let off pressure, the flames would shoot up and my house would smell like the stove had blown up. It was about this time my neighbor and friend Ann Wells contracted leukemia, a kind caused by exposure to benzene, either through air pollution or drinking water. Her home had spring water, and the leaking well (I presume, since I had headaches) was just down the driveway.
Chemo did no good, and she went quickly. It was tragic. Her parents lived into their 90s.
At the same time this was going on, the government decided to unitize the mineral rights. I realized at this point that Divide Creek would never be the same. What was going on ruined the people's health, their property values, often their water (I had methane in my new well) and their views. It was going from a beautiful, green valley to a brown, bare-dirt, industrial zone.
I sold at a 30 percent loss and eventually ended up in the North Fork Valley, a special place because of its beauty, agriculture and people. I hope the Oil and Gas Task Force can come up with recommendations for better laws that protect property values, clean water and air, and the health of the workers and the people who live near oil and gas wells.