Black Mountain again accepting drilling fluids

Two years after Mesa County shut down the Black Mountain solid-waste disposal facility because its owners failed to clean up a spill and accepted too much waste, the facility reopened this week with vows from the new owner to work cooperatively with neighbors, the county and the state.

On Wednesday, Black Mountain Recycling began receiving several loads of wastewater from oil and gas drilling. The 45-acre site is south of De Beque. Owner Jefferson Been expects it to be operating at full capacity “quickly.”

“We’re excited about this,” Been said. “It’s been a long time coming. It’s like waiting for your child to be born.”

The facility reopened about six weeks after county commissioners authorized it to begin treating produced water in one of its five evaporation ponds. The county also required Been and his wife, Brenda, to deposit $28,370 into a state-held trust fund that will help pay for site cleanup if Black Mountain is unable to do the work itself.

The commission’s decision went against a recommendation from the state, which has a lawsuit pending against both Black Mountain Disposal, the name under which the facility previously operated, and Black Mountain Recycling.

Black Mountain Recycling is in violation of a state solid-waste compliance order by not having fully documented the extent of the contamination. Black Mountain Disposal failed to report and clean up a 2001 spill and accepted more waste than its permit allowed. The lawsuits are scheduled to go to trial in April.

Been argued before commissioners last month that he couldn’t comply with the state order without reopening the facility and generating revenue. He said this week he expects to drill three more monitoring wells “shortly” and hopes to open the four other evaporative ponds next spring so he can accept more waste.

Black Mountain Recycling is allowed to accept 28,000 barrels of wastewater a month. Been said the one pond that is open has a 150,000-barrel capacity.

“Once the word gets out that we’re open, I think we’ll be a full capacity quickly,” he said.

Been said he is employing five people, has enlisted the help of a neighbor who is a welder and hopes to hire another neighbor who is a mechanic.

He said the fact that the facility is under new ownership should ease any lingering concerns.

“We’re trying to keep positive in dealings with our neighbors and the county and the state,” he said. “Really, I see no reason why there should be any problems that arise.”


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