Crews put out fire at Battlement Mesa pipeline site

Firefighters this week extinguished a fire at what has proven to be a problematic pipeline project site where Ursa Resources is planning to drill for natural gas in the residential community of Battlement Mesa.

Dave Devanney with the group Battlement Concerned Citizens said the incident happened Wednesday night.

Pipeline company Summit Midstream said in a statement that the fire involved activated foaming grout that was left over following work to place sealing grout around installed pipelines. The grout was used in an effort to stop heavy flows of groundwater encountered while boring to install the lines.

The leftover grout was in a preconstructed earthen berm used for mixing the product, the company said.

“A chemical reaction occurred in the berm leading to heat and ultimately a small fire. Summit Midstream immediately contacted the local fire department to extinguish the flame,” the company said.

It said that following the fire, the contractor involved, Rock Solid, removed the material and cleaned the site.

Officials at the Grand Valley Fire Protection District were unable to provide details about the incident Friday.

Devanney said the incident occurred at one of the pads where Ursa plans to drill.

The groundwater problem has led to a substantial amount of truck traffic by Summit to haul away some of the flowing water, and it also obtained a state permit to route some water to the Colorado River. The company also came under criticism from a state oil and gas regulatory official regarding stormwater management at the project site.

Truck traffic and the threat of sparking a wildfire are among the concerns some Battlement Mesa residents have raised about Ursa’s plans to drill in the community. In 2003, a wildfire blamed on a youth who set fire to some grass caused a wildfire that burned nine homes in Battlement Mesa.

“This is why an oil and gas operation should not be taking place in communities,” Devanney said of this week’s fire. “We were fortunate this time that there was not a catastrophic incident, but it makes residents wary and anxious and nervous about future operations near our homes and where we live, work and play.”

Garfield County said in a statement Friday that no one was injured in Wednesday’s fire.

It said cleanup of the fire was being addressed by Summit Midstream under advisement of the Garfield County emergency manager as the designated emergency response authority under the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

“The county is regulating installation of pipelines at the location, is continuously overseeing requirements relating to conditions of approval, and is regularly communicating and coordinating with Battlement Mesa residents, industry, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) relating (to) compliance with county and state regulatory requirements,” the county said.


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