Judge upholds Colorado gas, oil waste disposal rules
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER – A District Court judge has upheld new state rules for how oil and gas companies can dispose of waste.
Judge William W. Hood III sided with the state Tuesday in the case against Fourmile Recycling Facility Inc. of Moffat County and a second operation there.
The operators challenged rules related to pit liners at commercial sites processing oil and gas brine waste.
Brine waste from oil and gas exploration and production consists of salt water mixed with small amounts of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing of wells, along with crude oil and other hydrocarbons.
Colorado adopted new rules requiring facilities to use synthetic rather than more-permeable clay liners for disposal pits, unless they qualify for waivers. Fourmile Recycling argued the liner rule was ambiguous.
The pit liner rule was among those adopted last year by the by the Colorado Solid and Hazardous Waste Commission.
The state Legislature ordered the rules in 2008 out of concern about the potential health effects of the facilities in places such as the De Beque area in Mesa County. Another new rule is that new facilities must be located at least a half mile from homes and parks.
Hood disagreed with the plaintiffs’ contentions that the new rules were contrary to a separate state law related to gas and oil drilling. The plaintiffs also called the waste rule unreasonable and unconstitutional, and that they usurped local regulatory authority over such disposal sites.
Fourmile Recycling did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Sentinel newspaper.
Frank Smith, a member of the citizens group Western Colorado Congress, which had pushed for the new law, applauded the ruling.
“Pit liners, absolutely that helps protect people and water,” he said.
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