We live in a county in Colorado that is very agriculture-based and very conservative. Gas/Oil drilling regulations here are loose at best. I am no environmentalist. I am not very good at recycling. I drive a car that likes to guzzle gas. I’m not granola. Not an eco-maniac.
However….. when I saw this go in across the street, I got a little concerned:
This happened just after we closed on the house. I’ve written before about the noise of the rig. The incessant beeping of trucks backing up, the machine noise of the rig itself, the lights on at night….24 hours a day. This went on for 25 days or so… While the rig was up and running, I tried to be tolerant, but I admit it was tough. Here we were moving into our dream house after enduring over 3 months living in our camper and suffering through the short sale process and this goddamn rig was keeping me up at night. Grr. So, I did some research and found out that our county is one of the only ones in Colorado that allows rigs to drill this close to homes. Neat.
The day the rig started coming down, hubby was out of town. I saw the tarp coming off the platform thingie and literally choked up I was so happy. I immediately called hubby and told him the happy news. When I came home that afternoon and saw the rig was down, I hooped and hollered and rejoiced.
Then, they started moving other equipment in. What…the…fuck… Huge black tanks were put up and water trucks were driving in and filling the tanks 24 hours a day. Still, this was WAY better than the rig. I knew fracking was eminent, but I thought there was no way it would be worse than the rig.
Boy was I wrong.
Once the tanks were filled and all the new equipment was in place, the fracking started with even brighter lights and louder noise. The roar from the fracking was so loud, you had to speak up in the house to hear each other. I think the lights were directed at my bedroom window.
Thankfully, the fracking only lasted 5 days or so. Hubby was “lucky” he missed it, but he was working in North Dakota where it was -18 degrees F, so maybe not so lucky.
Another big sigh as the fracking equipment moved. It has to be over soon, right?
Flaring was the next step. I’m not quite sure the purpose of flaring…I think it’s to burn off excess gas while they are getting the storage tanks ready, but there may be other reasons for it. Why are the storage tanks not ready prior to the drilling beginning? I have no effing idea. Basically, flaring is a big smoke stack with an enormous flame coming out of the top. It is loud, but nothing like the fracking or the rig. Mostly, it is very scary to see the orange glow of fire in your house all night long. There was one stack that burned across from our house. The only picture I have looks like this:
It was only one flare, as you can see, but it felt like this:
Now, like I said, I am no environmentalist. However, when the kids started having red eyes and sore throats, I started to worry. I called the county health department who referred me to the oil and gas commission. An inspector came out, but by then the flaring was over (it lasted about 5-6 days) and the stack was down. He did assure me that he checked all the tanks and the new well heads and they were all fine and by then the kids were better. Was it the flaring or a cold? Who knows.
The rig moved down the street, but isn’t close enough to bother us anymore. They are still pumping water from the tanks down to the new rig, but there’s only one spot light and minimal noise. I think we are out of the woods and hope we don’t have to endure this again.
I’m not opposed to gas/oil drilling in our country, but it would be nice if the drilling still had to abide by noise ordinances (they don’t), had to drill at least 1000 feet or more from homes, had to prove ground water/air quality after drilling, and found an alternative to flaring. I had NO opinion on any of this prior to living across from a rig. I may become an activist, but probably not.