Caerus drops soil treatment facility proposal

An energy company has dropped plans for a soil treatment facility that had encountered opposition from nearby residents of Battlement Mesa.

Caerus Oil and Gas had proposed operating the facility just south of the Colorado River and just west of the unincorporated residential development. It would have been used mostly to clean up contaminated cuttings from drilling wells into formations with natural gas and other hydrocarbons.

Some Battlement Mesa residents feared being exposed to air pollution from the operations, and possible contamination of the river. Resident Dave Devanney said the Battlement Mesa Service Association, the community’s homeowners association, had sent Garfield County a letter raising concerns about the proposal after hearing from residents. The county Planning Commission had been scheduled to consider the proposal next week.

Devanney said it didn’t seem that the operation necessarily would have posed an immediate health threat, but that might have changed over time.

“I think that most of the residents in Battlement Mesa are pleased that this won’t be an issue for them down the road,” Devanney said.

The facility would have used what’s called a pugmill, a machine consisting of hoppers and a conveyor belt that would have mixed soil, microorganisms, fertilizer and water. That would have fostered activity by microorganisms that eat hydrocarbons.

The process allows for reuse of the soil in operations, rather than having to ship it to a landfill, Caerus has said. At a recent public meeting, some residents questioned why the company was proposing locating the facility so close to homes.

A letter from a Caerus consultant to the county giving notification of the project withdrawal gave no reason for the action. Caerus couldn’t be reached for comment.


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