State cites gas firm after complaints

BATTLEMENT MESA — Residents who fear the coming of natural gas development to this residential community say smells associated with it already have arrived, making them sick.

Some 30 people gathered Wednesday to hear several accounts of nausea, dizziness, coughing, burning eyes and what residents say are other ill effects of fumes emanating from nearby operations of Antero Resources.

“That leads a lot of us to wonder what the future holds for us with the proposed 200 wells that Antero wants to drill within our community here,” said Ron Galterio, co-chairman of Battlement Concerned Citizens, a group that has been raising concerns about Antero’s plans.

Dave Neslin, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said the agency has issued a notice of alleged violation against Antero and is working with the company to identify additional measures the company can take to minimize the odors.

“It’s an issue that we are continuing to work on. We understand the community’s concern,” he said.

Galterio is among those Battlement Mesa residents who have been reporting strong odors in recent weeks. The state says the fumes are coming from a pad where Antero has been completing wells near Battlement Mesa.

Gloria Howard said she has coped with the fumes on several occasions when visiting her daughter’s home. She said eight of 10 people who recently experienced the odors while at the home almost immediately got headaches.

Bonnie Smeltzer said the smell was particularly bad the night of July 14-15.

“It was so strong I pulled the sheet over my head. I could not stand the odor; it was terrible,” she said.

State officials believe the odor is related to flow back of hydraulic fracturing fluids injected into wells to produce gas. Several residents Wednesday described a diesel or other petroleum-related smell, but Margaret Ash, field inspection manager for the oil and gas commission, said inspectors don’t believe the smell is related to hydrocarbons. It may be caused by bacteria in the water used in fracturing, she said.

Antero’s local operations manager, Jon Black, said he was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting with residents because of a schedule conflict. Antero and oil and gas commission staff will meet today.

“We’re endeavoring to get to the bottom of this issue in conjunction with the COGCC and the folks at Battlement Mesa,” Black said.

Antero is doing required air quality sampling, and tests results are pending, Ash said.


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