The O. Zone

Silt ground zero in fracking debate

By David O. Williams
Real AspenDecember 2, 2010

A small town on the Western Slope of Colorado with the unlikely name of “Silt” has become ground zero for the natural gas hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” debate – at least in this state.

David O. Williams

The city of Pittsburgh recently banned gas drilling within the city limits out of fear that fracking may lead to drinking water contamination – a charge the oil and gas industry steadfastly denies.

But in Silt, where nearby West Divide Creek once was so laden with methane and benzene that area resident Lisa Bracken could famously light its waters on fire, many industry critics claim the process of injecting water, sand and chemicals deep underground to free up more gas is far too risky.

It’s to the point where some Silt Mesa subdivision residents have urged a boycott of town businesses because officials there are too supportive of the industry.

Now comes the latest incident in which frequent industry critic Beth Strudley tells the Glenwood Springs Post Independent that she returned to her home after being out of town last weekend and noticed the smell of rotten eggs emanating from her family’s drinking water well. She attributes the odor to a nearby gas well and refuses to use the water.

Denver-based Antero resources has applied to the state to increase the density of its gas wells in the highly residential area. Many residents, despite the ongoing debate over fracking and the uncertainty over its potential impacts to drinking water, are understandably concerned.

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