Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gas Fumes Force Family Out

The article in The Post Independent below is no longer accessible under its original link (I think!) Try it here:   Silt Mesa family claims gas fumes forcing them out

But luckily I found the content here. In case that disappears too, I have posted the article below:

SILT, Colorado - One of the most vocal critics of gas drilling activities in the Silt Mesa area has been told by a doctor that she and her family have to move for their health's sake.Beth Strudley, her husband, Bill, and their two sons have been house shopping for weeks, after one of the sons reportedly began suffering from severe rashes, nose bleeds and blackouts.

But it was not until Dec. 28 that she got confirmation of her fears from a Grand Junction physician, Dr. Joseph Wezensky of Kokopelli Health & Wellness, said Beth Strudley." He said, 'Get out of that house, now!'" Strudley reported."Our water's screwed, the air is screwed, we have to leave our house," she said on Monday, during a break in the meeting of the Garfield County commissioners.

"We have to get out of Silt Mesa." 

Strudley has been protesting plans by Antero Resources to drill for gas in the area north of Interstate 70 known as Silt Mesa and Peach Valley, which is where she and her family have lived for four years, maintaining that the gas drilling is compromising air and water quality in the area.

Downplaying the concerns and fears expressed by Strudley and other residents of Garfield County in recent years, the industry has maintained that their activities are closely regulated by the state government and do not pose health hazards to nearby residents. The industry position is that there is no conclusive evidence of illness due to a person's proximity to gas wells that have been hydraulically fractured, or frac'ed, despite more than 60 years of the practice in various gas-rich parts of the United States.

In 2005, Strudley told the Post Independent, she called the offices of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and was told "they'll never drill for gas on Silt Mesa." She said she was told that one gas drilling company had done some testing in the late 1980s and concluded that it was not an economically viable location for extracting natural gas.

But new drilling techniques brought Antero into the neighborhood last summer, and Strudley has been protesting against the drilling rigs, the service trucks and the industry in general ever since. Her most highly public effort involved posting large signs in her yard that proclaimed, "Antero Is Going To Poison Our Water," among other warnings."Unfortunately, that bloody sign, everything I have on it has come true," she said.

William Strudley, 13, was the first to show symptoms, beginning with severe nosebleeds that his mom said could only be stemmed by putting Tampon feminine napkins up his nose. He then developed a persistent rash over much of his body that itches and burns.Then, two weeks ago, his mother said, he passed out in the bathroom for no apparent reason. In the meantime, her other son, Charlie, 11, has begun showing the same symptoms, as have she and her husband."I have to buy a new box of Tampons," Strudley said with a flash of humor. "Everybody's been using them."

Speaking to the Board of County Commissioners, she said, "My son, our whole family, has been chemically poisoned by the toxic fumes that Antero Resources is enveloping Silt Mesa in, on a daily basis, since Aug. 9, 2010," when Antero put up its first rig in the area. "Silt Mesa is becoming the sad twin sister of Divide Creek," she told the commissioners, referring to another part of Garfield County that has seen intensive gas drilling activities.

In her statement, Strudley cited the case of Chris Mobaldi, a former resident of Garfield County who lived south of Rifle. She died last year of a rare pituitary tumor that she, her husband and a family doctor felt was related to her exposure to gas drilling activities.

"The rest of the world is watching in horror of what you are allowing to happen," she admonished the commissioners, adding that Wezensky told her that living where she is living "is on a fast track to all kinds of cancers."This, I believe, is now your problem to fix," she declared. "You need to get Antero Resources away from our homes and families. Well, what are you going to do? How are you going to stop my son from dying?"

The commissioners did not respond to Strudley's remarks, but called on the next speaker on the meeting's agenda.

By John Colson: jcolson@postindependent.com


  1. REAKING: Groups call for task force Co-Chair’s resignation
    by Peggy Tibbetts

    Randy Cleveland, President XTO Energy
    Today a coalition of grassroots organizations asked for the resignation of Co-Chair Randy Cleveland from Governor Hickenlooper's Blue Ribbon Task Force on fracking.
    This Task Force was established so U.S. Representative Jared Polis could gracefully strike from the 2014 state ballot two initiatives he had financed. One would have required 2000-foot setbacks from homes, the other would have allowed towns and cities to determine for themselves whether they wanted fracking in their back yards.
    On Monday, Wes Wilson and Phil Doe from Be the Change exposed Cleveland's appointment of industry insider Dollis Wright to the health and safety panel scheduled for Thursday's Task Force meeting in Greeley.
    The groups cite several reasons for requesting Cleveland's resignation:
    1. Cleveland's company, XTO, was recently fined $2.3 million for toxic dumping in West Virginia. The estimated cleanup costs are another $3 million. XTO is recognized as one of the worst polluters in Pennsylvania, having been fined more than $227,000 for toxic dumping into major rivers such as the Susquehanna. A state grand jury has brought criminal charges against the company because of its reckless and illegal dumping.
    Phil Doe, Environmental Director for Be the Change said, “The governor’s appointment of Cleveland to a leadership role on his 'blue ribbon' task force is bewildering. Cleveland has been given control of the task force even though his company has been repeatedly charged with significant regulatory violations. If any of us had done what Cleveland’s company has done, we’d probably be in the clinker.
    "He’s not even a resident of this state," Doe continued. "Yet, he is invited to jet in here, make decisions about our lives, our property, our safety and then jet back to his home in Texas. Coloradans don’t need a law-breaking Texas CEO to tell us how to regulate our oil industry.”
    2. XTO’s activities in Colorado show a similar pattern. State oil and gas records show that XTO has self-reported 101 spills, with almost 800 thousand gallons of operational waste of unknown toxicity leaked into the environment, mostly from faulty disposal ponds and corroded pipes. About 93 percent of the waste was never recovered, some of it reaching rivers and streams. For these infractions, the company has been fined once for $2000. Moreover, the company is wasting approximated 7 percent of all its gas production, either through flaring or leaks. With a market value of roughly $68 million, the waste of this nonrenewable energy has cost Coloradans reduced severance and royalty payments as well.
    Colorado activist Shane Davis says, “We know XTO is wasting Colorado resources, we just don’t know how much since, in Colorado, the oil business is on an honor system designed by state regulators. We don’t self-report for speeding, and we shouldn’t let oil companies do so either. These wasted gases are the source of airborne toxins affecting the health of people living near well sites. Health concerns are the reason Governor Cuomo banned fracking in New York last month. On top of that, methane, the primary constituent in these leaks, is 86 times worse than CO2 for climate warming over a 20-year period.
    "The health of Coloradans must come first, not oil company profits,” Davis added. “There are plenty of other oil company representatives on the task force, but the President of XTO Energy has to go.”
    XTO Energy Fact Sheetal Sheth

  2. The "state regulations" the O&G companies just love were written by the O&G companies, themselves, and put into place by paid legislators. So, the claim that they're following the state regs is just blather.