Tuesday, May 1, 2012

State declares health emergency at Windsor oil drilling site

May 1st, 2012

Colorado oil and gas regulators have declared an emergency at an oil well being drilled atop an old landfill on the Larimer County side of Windsor – a well that generated a groundswell of public concern when it was announced last year.

A drilling rig became unstable last Wednesday as Ranchers Exploration Partners was drilling an oil well atop the long-shuttered Johnston Landfill in Windsor, a site near the River West and Ridge West subdivisions south of Colorado Highway 392.

The well site is on a hill above a gulch that drains into a nearby reservoir along the Poudre River.

After Greeley-based Ranchers Exploration attempted to stabilize the drilling rig with cement, landfill debris and other trash were seen being expelled from the well bore, and the rig lost “circulation of fluids, likely due to the presence of highly permeable unconsolidated landfill materials,” according to a cease-and-desist order the state served Ranchers last week.

In last week’s cease and desist order, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Acting Director Thomas Kerr declared an emergency because Ranchers’ operation poses an environment and public health risk.

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