New Rules for Oil and Gas Waste Pits

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

Some people living in Debeque say the new rules for waste pits from oil and gas development are long overdue.

They've been fighting for tighter restrictions since a local facility had a leak of toxic chemicals seven years ago.

They say they're happy their voices were heard in Denver, but their fight is far from over.

Kim Weber lives in Debeque and got to talk one on one with Governor Ritter Wednesday when he was at Mesa State signing a new bill into law. She wants him to know about problems with waste pits from oil and gas development.

"I live close to Black Mountain and people won't even come and visit me because of the smell. They're afraid of getting toxified," said Weber.

She says she wants change.

"I'm sick of this."

That's why she and other people who live in Debeque have been fighting for tighter regulations of the waste pits.

"It's been an incredible journey," said Madge Becker, a teacher at Mesa State who also lives in Debeque.

"I'm worried about the children who don't know to stay away from the pits and I worry about wildlife."

It all started seven years ago with a leak at the Black Mountain disposal site.

"A piece of equipment accidentally tore the liner and spilled toxic chemicals," Charles Johnson with the Colorado Department of Health told 11 News over the phone.

The Colorado Department of Health says chemicals like hydrocarbons, benzine and arsenic leaked. Johnson says Black Mountain's disposal water is still not at state safety standards.

The Colorado Department of Health says it has no information that chemicals have leaked in the water supply people's, it says there are still a lot of questions.

11 News Reporter: "Where does the water flow?"

"That's what we're asking the company to find out," said Johnson.

Elaine Pratt is listed as a contact with Black Mountain disposal on the state's contact list. She told 11 News over the phone that there was no leak, no catastrophic event and "it's all falsehoods."

She referred all other questions to her consultant who has not called back as of Wednesday evening.

Under the new rules waste pits can't be within one–half mile from homes, they have to have better liners and emergency plans in case there's a spill.

Becker says she can understand the need for the waste pits.

"The waste has to go somewhere, it just shouldn't go near people."

And although she and fellow advocate Kim Weber are happy about the new rules, they say they'll keep fighting for tighter regulations for waste pits.

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