EnCana faces fine for alleged contamination
EnCana is on the hot seat once again.The company, one of the largest natural gas developers in Garfield County, faces a hearing before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for allegedly contaminating two water wells near Silt.The commission staff recommended EnCana be fined for allegedly violating state water quality regulations as well as commission rules. EnCana was fined $371,000 in August 2004 in a related case, a natural gas seep in and around West Divide Creek. The commission found the seep was caused by production gas leaking from wells on EnCana’s P3 pad.The oil and gas commission will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. July 11 at the Garfield County fairgrounds in Rifle. It will then decide on the amount of a fine, if any, to impose on EnCana, said commission hearings manager Tricia Beaver.EnCana has received a series of “Notices of Alleged Violation” from the commission which have proposed a connection between its gas wells and or production-type gas found in the Dietrich and Amos/Walker water wells south of Silt. According to a notice issued two weeks ago, continued sampling of both wells has shown production gas is still contaminating them. The commission also “fingerprinted” the gas in the Dietrich and Amos/Walker wells by chemical analysis, and it is similar to the gas coming from particular EnCana wells near those homes.On Monday, the Garfield County commissioners decided to formally intervene in the case against EnCana.”We’re intervening in order to be in the information loop. We may be perfectly comfortable with the proposed fine or settlement,” County Commissioner Larry McCown said. “I don’t think we will suggest a fine, but we will recommend it be utilized locally.”Under oil and gas commission rules, a local government may intervene in a violation action to raise concerns about environmental impacts or public health and safety, Beaver said. Individuals or non-governmental groups may also intervene.Laura Amos, whose well was contaminated with production gas, said she intends to file as an intervenor. Amos contends that the contamination caused her to contract a rare adrenal gland tumor. EnCana spokeswoman Florence Murphy said the company is cooperating with the commission.”This part of an ongoing process. We’re been working with the COGCC. I don’t think there’s anything new here,” she said. “With respect to the Amoses, intermittently since 2001 we’ve been providing them with water and constantly in 2004. We’re very concerned about Laura (Amos) and continually work with her as well.”
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