The Dumler family, 40-year North Park residents, say this discharge from an oil field upstream of their ranch may be operating under a permit that expired in 2006.
Ranching family claims oil field discharging under an expired permit; state monitoring, permitting and enforcement stretched by dwindling resources
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — While Colorado gubernatorial candidates Scott McInnis and John Hickenlooper theoretically discuss what changes they might — or might not — make to the state’s oil and gas-drilling regulations, the Dumlers, long-time North Park ranch owners, say they don’t think the state is adequately enforcing existing rules for an oil drilling operation near their Hell Creek Ranch.
Just upstream of their spread, the Lone Pine Gas Company, Inc. operates an oil field that, according to the Dumlers, was not in compliance with state regulations for several years. Even after numerous letters to state officials, the family claims the well continues to ooze polluted and over-heated water into small tributaries that flow into the North Platte River just a few miles downstream.
In 2006, a documented spill shut the well down, smearing oil for two miles along the stream bank. When the waste water flow stopped, algae mats that had been building up disappeared. For a short time, Hell Creek flowed clear once again. When the well started pumping again, the water in Hell Creek turned muddy and the algae returned. State officials claim the algae is unrelated to discharge from the drilling operations, but the Dumlers say the timing of bloom makes it clear there’s a direct link.
Lone Pine Gas Company, Inc. president Gilmer Mickey said state inspectors have frequently visited the site since the spill.
“To my knowledge, we’re working within compliance of all our permits,” Mickey said.
In October 2007, a state water quality inspector notified Lone Pine Gas Company, Inc. that conditions at the facility did not comply with a discharge permit, and asked for a response by by Nov. 30. (more…)
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