North Platte River basin: The EPA sounds the alarm over discharges from Lone Pine Gas facilities into Spring Gulch Creek

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Oil stains extend from Lone Pine Gas facilities for about 1.25 miles along shorelines of Spring Gulch Creek. Besides oil, Englewood-based Lone Pine — with state permission — has been releasing 200,000 to 400,000 gallons a day of treated drilling wastewater directly into creek waters, raising landowner concerns. The Environmental Protection Agency has begun to assess the damage along the creek, which flows into Hell Creek and then into the North Fork of the North Platte River.

A Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission inspector will join an EPA coordinator today. “We got a call from concerned landowners on April 3. We were up there by April 5,” EPA spokesman Matthew Allen said. “(The EPA) is categorizing the types of damage along the shoreline to determine the best cleanup actions for the responsible party to take.” This is the latest of crude-oil spills dating to 2006 at Lone Pine’s gas and oil field about 14 miles west of Walden — near protected state wildlife areas.

A COGCC inspector in December found the spill, and agency officials met with Lone Pine managers in January. Lone Pine’s operations are somewhat uncommon because the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has allowed the company, through a discharge permit, to release up to 420,000 gallons of drilling wastewater per day into the creek from settling ponds. A couple of years ago, CDPHE learned that Lone Pine’s drilling wastewater did not meet state water-quality standards and, in September 2010, ordered the company to stop polluting the creek.

The CDPHE “cease-and-desist” order, however, “does not require that Lone Pine cease its operations while they return to compliance,” agency spokesman Mark Salley said. CDPHE’s water-quality division “is primarily concerned with the wastewater treatment facility’s ongoing inability to reliably and consistently comply with the terms and conditions of its discharge permit.”

From the Associated Press via Billings Gazette:

Wyoming water quality director John Wagner says the water is not from fracking or drilling and he believes it’s not harmful to Wyoming streams and wildlife.

Colorado water officials said Lone Pine Gas violated water quality standards a number of times since 2007, including dumping water with excess levels of copper and iron. The company says it shut down the plant in March and did a complete cleanup.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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