2008 Divide Creek Seep
Note: Some of the photos on this page didn't update, so I will try to reload them soon. My apologies - and thank you for your patience.
On July 3rd, 2008, we checked out the span of Divide Creek along our place and, at their invitation, walked the banks of Thompsons' and Langeggers' as well. The remainder of Divide Creek on our property looked good and Thompson's looked good, no goo, no biofilm and no bubbles (though on Thompson's we only checked the area of the old seep site).
On to Langeggers'.
The "main seep" was identified by COGCC to be mainly in Divide Creek and along its South bank where a number of springs exit from a large wetland area above the Creek on Langegger's property.
I checked out the old spring - the one that was orange and had a bunch of biofilm associated with it - it looked good. No weirdness. It cleared up after Schwartz was remediated, and it's good to see that it still looks good.
You Tube linked video of this same
"main seep" area from back in 2004
I looked about a hundred or so feet upstream to the the spring near the "mother vent" and that spring looked good too, despite a monitoring well a few feet downstream of the "mother vent" still blowing benzene. Visually, there was nothing weird. Everything looked normal. However, when I looked between these two main points, when I examined the rocky bank about twenty feet downstream from the mother vent and the monitoring well that is still blowing benzene, that area was still oozing grossness - orange gunk and iridescent, greasy-looking pools of biofilm. Just like we're now seeing on our place. Although some monitoring occurs on the South bank area of Divide Creek, there is no remediation in that same area.
YouTube linked video of this same
area, today, in 2008
The only remediation is associated with sparging the North bank and meadow area. So, the system is set up to try to contain and mitigate the nasty as it flows Northward, downstream onto Thompson's, our place and on to the Colorado River where the communities or Silt and Rifle are next in line. There is no remediation taking place in the wetlands, where the springs flow, where the bank is gunky and where the mother vent blows. To learn more about how this area is and isn't being remediated, click here to review my Week 31 tour (an event prior to and contingent on our signing a lease with EnCana). Of note, here. On the tour I did not look at the gunky bank, nor was I shown it. I went there to listen and be guided which I was. I was shown the pump house, the sparge covers, the area of methane induced flora die-off across the creek where benzene is also present in the ground water. I was not shown the springs nor the creek bank nor any areas of previous bubbling. And because I had seen them before, I did not look - presuming that the circumstances were similar which they seem still to be.
Notation 07-13-08 - after a conversation with a Cordilleran representative on July 10, 2008 a few things were made more conversationally clear, but by the same token, also a little less so: apparently the "mother vent" is no longer producing detectable levels of benzene, but the monitoring well a few feet downstream of that location is. Also, the ground water location of the methane-killed vegetation across the creek from that location is also producing benzene. So I've corrected those references above. Because of the incongruous nature of the conversation and lack of specific clarity, I need to review the data and maps. It was probably me, but the conversation was odd and skipped around a lot. I need to rely strictly on the data from here on out and once I have time to find the map notation and correlate the sampling data I'll note either a confirmation or correction here. For now, I'll go with what I think I heard the representative say on the 10th: Benzene is detect in a couple of ground water locations - near the mother vent and North, across the creek.
Below, I'll show you photos of the July 3rd, 2008 walkabout on Langeggers'.
Let's start on the East end of the seep area [the waters in the creek are flowing toward the left]. From here, we'll tour Westward moving 10 or 15 feet Westerly with each new photo. Here is the first Easterly spring, running clear. [07-03-08] Now, let's move West, or to the right, upstream....
|Here is the second spring. Looks good. [07-03-08]|
|Here is the third spring. Also looks good. [07-03-08] Let's keep moving West....||
Here is another set of springs - these also look good. [07-03-08] Let's go a little further West....
|Here is the bank, just upstream from the Eastern springs
that once were orange but now look good. Above this bank is a large wetland
area that extends far back to the South. This bank is still gunky with
orange goo. I'll show you the close up's after I show you the mother vent -
just about twenty more feet to the West.... [07-03-08]
Again, here's the video link:
Here's the monitor well just a few feet downstream from the "Mother Vent" - there are two springs, one on either side that look good. This ground water monitor still detects benzene. You can see the rocky bank we just looked at on the left of this photo. In fact, the bunch- grass in the middle of the creek [on the bottom left of this photo] is the same grass on the photo to the left. The tip of the grass it is visible [on the bottom right of the photo]. This whole main seep area is only maybe 100 - 150 feet long. [07-03-08]
A close up of the springs on either side of the ground water monitor near the "mother vent". It's interesting how this monitor still detects contamination, but all around it there is grass and the springs look good. The environmental signatures of such a seep are complex and therefore challenging - all the more reason for intensive and thorough investigation. [07-03-08]
|Here's a close up of the rocky South bank above. This is only one of a bunch of batches of orange glop present. The whole middle bank is basically covered with it, just as prevalent as at the beginning of the 2004 seep. [07-03-08]|
|Another area along bank.... [07-03-08]
Another.... to see the glop associated with one of Langegger's springs back in 2004, click here and scroll down to "Synopsis", or just keep going down this page. [07-03-08]
This is a wide patch of ground approximately across the creek from the mother vent where probably around 500 square feet of vegetative area is, according to a representative from Cordilleran, impeded and struggling from the methane contamination. Methane chokes out oxygen and suffocates root systems. Benzene is also detected in ground water samples from this site. In 2004 we experienced a significant die-off of trees and grass. [07-03-08]
It's probably easier for you if I just show you those 2004 Langegger photos here. This is from the Langegger property then, back in 2004. The springs cleared up after the Schwartz well was remediated, but the goo on the bank remains. I have no idea why this is, but I sure would like to know.... since we're seeing it (and weird black stuff too) on our place now.
As shown in photos above, these areas are now clear.
I'll try to get the video of this up soon, but
you can still view the photos just above under this header: "I'll show you photos of the July 3rd,
walkabout on Langeggers'".
|From Langegger's 2004 [05-16-04]||Another from Langegger's 2004 [05-16-04]||
More on Langeggers, 2004 - spring flowing with the orange gunk and lots of biofilm. [05-16-04]
Orange and Black Seep Update on our place....
We saw from the July 3rd walkabout on our place that the orange stuff still clings on in all its grotesque glory.... and we are waiting to hear results.
Here it is above in all its
loveliness. This photo is of the back-side, since I maneuvered over here to
grab a sample of our own. Jelly jar - probably not really scientific, but I
put it in the fridge anyway. [07-03-08] I pointed out to the Field Inspector
who collected the samples of the orange gunk that this was actually flowing
from underground into the ponded areas and suggested he sample here, but he
YouTube Video link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSQIuZMMP7E
Then, we went off to snatch up a little of the black seep.
After the black gunk all settled out I looked at
it. Ever since the inspector noted that the fluid coming out of the hole
looked clear, and the black stuff appeared to be particulate, I've been
curious. So I held it up and studied it. You know what it looked like? Coal
dust. I wonder if a coal seam has been cracked open and the gas and water
and fine coal dust associated with it is what is coming to the surface?
Here's what I suspect....
I strongly suspect the Arbaney kick set the stage for all this crap that's followed. I think the improperly cemented and fraced Schwartz well made things worse and caused the seep. I think re-entering the same offending well [last year - about the same time we started noticing bubbling again in the beaver pond] to shut it down in order to make room for more drilling and later bringing it back online, or perhaps new drilling and fracing from the same pad may have caused this. Perhaps when the Schwartz was shut in (taken off production), the fraced, force- fractured and naturally faulted zone was re-pressurized. Perhaps this created the leading edge and body of a kind of giant gas bubble underground. Perhaps when the well was brought back into production, the body of gas was cut off and the bulk of the bubble was left to migrate up through the strata - seeking fissures and exit where it may. Maybe that's why we saw a little gas expressing in the pond last year. And maybe that's why we saw what appeared to be a gradual increase in expression, culminating in vent holes, biofilm and now this. Maybe this is a big gas burp caused by shutting in the Schwartz. But if it is - how long will it eek into the environment? It's been almost a year to get to this point. What is left? How long was the well shut in? How long will the raw gas take to get out? How much worse will it get? What is coming out of the ground? Even after most of the pressure is gone, to what lesser degree will it continue? Is subsequent drilling and fracing making things worse?
Good grief, these are questions COGCC and EnCana should be asking themselves.
These are the only things that seem to add up. If this isn't the case and if the COGCC environmental team cannot explain what is going on, then at least maybe they can demonstrate that we are wrong. Although, I won't hold my breath. The environmental supervisor's first response to the 2004 seep was to suggest that everyone move the creek.
Don't ask. Just don't even go there.
If this was caused by renewed drilling, all we want is whoever did it to take responsibility so we can get on with fixing it. This is horrible, and it's a deep swipe at the otherwise healthy ecosystem of our beloved Summerhawk.
When you look at what happened on our place, Thompson's place and Langeggers' back in 2004. And you look at how the presence of hydrocarbons have effected the area - 115 million cubic feet of it, particularly what we've seen from the springs and Southbank of Langegger's - there is a lot of visual and other evidence that should lead one to greater questioning, not just a cursory adjustment of the focus to enable drilling to continue.
This area is known to be rich in vertical faulting which, when combined with horizontal faulting makes for a fragile matrix. I know there's a LOT of gas here, and I know the drilling companies want it so badly they can practically taste it. But, maybe drilling shouldn't' occur here until the industry develops better methods to cope with the unique and fragile geology. Listen, we're not anti-industry. We signed a lease and are scheduled to be on the receiving end of royalties from that lease - once two of the scheduled six wells on the Juniper Group are completed. Of course, we'll probably end up putting the royalties into a legal fund if we ever see any. So, there is a financial incentive for us to cooperate with industry and allow them to drill. But money isn't everything. Money is nothing when you try to put a price on clean water, air and soil and healthy wildlife. We cannot allow these companies to pollute our environment. Obviously, when done properly, drilling is okay. But "okay" and "problems" are grey areas - especially when so little is known about so complicated an industry and it's impacts on geology. I mean, the COGCC has given the industry a lot of wriggle-out back doors.
For instance, when drilling this area, the bradenhead pressure has to reach a certain intensity before it is considered indicative of a problem. But that particular pressure is relatively arbitrary and associated with known adverse effects already experienced in the environment - such as the 2004 seep. So, it's a loose threshold - especially since so many aspects of the actual event were marginalized and ignored. What if adverse effects can occur at less pressures? Sadly, it seems the onus is on the landowner to point out a problem, beat their heads against a wall trying to get the COGCC or industry to respond let alone acknowledge the problem, and what then? We also have to prove the connectivity, because all of the rules and protocol are in place to further industry's needs. When you talk about money, where is the value is such a policy? The truth is that such a policy comes with a terrible, terrible cost.
Happy birthday America.
Other Relevant Links
Divide Creek Seep 2004 [115 million cubic feet of natural gas blows out during an EnCana frack job and causes benzene to contaminate the groundwater of West Divide Creek]
Compare the 2004 Seep with the 2008 Seep with video (scroll down to Video section)
Divide Creek Then - 2004 [Seep photos and information]
Divide Creek 'Now' - 2007 [Prior to the seep event of June 28, 2008]
Timeline of events [From January 2004 to present]
COGCC 2004 Divide Creek Seep Order (judgment) and Vital
Exhibit showing faulting. (in
particular, you may find paragraphs 10, 20, 30 and 73 of interest).
Dr. Geoffrey Thyne's (of Science Based
Solutions) presentation to Garfield County
Re: "Sumary of PI and PII Hydrogeologic Characterization Studies - Mamm Creek
Area, Garfield County, CO" This key
PowerPoint presentation and its companion conclusive report provide an outstanding perspective of the dynamics
at play between the hydrology and the geology of this area in particular as
it specifically relates to drilling operations and risks to water supplies.
Please look for these links at the following addresses:
Conclusions - http://garfield-county.com/Index.aspx?page=1149
Incomplete List of Hydraulic Fracturing Constituents (with MSDS sheets)
Garfield County Gas Wells and Pipelines
COGCC Quarterly Complaint Reports
Analysis of the West Divide
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otherwise noted are copyrighted by Lisa Bracken, 2007-2012 (or present). All rights are