2008 Divide Creek Seep
Entry - 07-17-08
You may recall my letter of response to COGCC last week - well, here's their response to that....
"[name removed] collected water samples from two locations on your property at your request, one of which was associated with the “black” bacteria area. The water samples were collected for BTEX compounds (3 40ml VOA vials). At the “black” bacterial area one soil/bacteria sample was collected for the analysis of petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH). All laboratory samples were collected as per EPA collection methods and transferred to the laboratory under full chain-of-custody procedures. Additionally each water sample location also had 3 vials collected for Biological Activity Reaction Test (BARTTM) for the following; Iron Related Bacteria (IRB), Sulfate Reducing Bacteria (SRB), and Slime Forming Bacteria (SFB) for a total of 6 sample vials (2 for SAR, 2 for SRB, and 2 for SFB). As you are aware from your discussions with Mr. Canfield, these are the most common groups of bacteria that affect overall water quality in drinking water systems, and the most common groups of bacteria that can cause water and/or sediment coloration. At no time did the COGCC state that samples were being collected for gases.
Sample results for the laboratory samples (BTEX and TPH) are anticipated later this week. The BART kit samples are observed for color changes that are directly related to how aggressive the bacteria colonies can form in the waters that were sampled. As soon as I can arrange it, I will e-mail you photographs of the kit results."
And I respond in kind....
"Thank you for your reply, your explanation and your distinction between the BTEX and BART analysis. You are correct that at no time did [name removed - environmental specialist] say he was sampling for gas. He did not say either way, which is why I asked.
Is there a reason the COGCC does not wish to
further investigate the site of both seeps – and newly discovered white ashy
substance and wetted area next to the cliff - or the gas associated with it
– which [name removed - field inspector] noted may have been H2S? Overall,
this area is perhaps 30 or 40’ North to South and perhaps 60 to 70 feet West
to East. I am amazed that so many of the same characteristics of this seep
seem identical to what occurred in 2004, with the exception of vigorous
bubbling, and yet the OCGCC seems unwilling to comprehensively examine what
continues to be a dynamic situation.
Last year, as in 2004, the COGCC was adamant that the bubbling detected was due to a normal beaver pond environment. Now, there is no beaver pond. Yet, we are seeing a greater proliferation of what is assumed to be bacterial growth. Perhaps you can tell me what is liberating it into the environment? Is the COGCC not concerned that there appears to be gas which appeared suddenly and made me ill that is associated with this black seep?
This is a significant change to our environment which may be associated with drilling activities – drilling activities which have, in the recent past, been associated with a number of significant environmental changes including geologic (the Arbaney well – the Schwartz well – the Brown well). If the parameters you are using to ascertain possible environmental impacts are only those which correlate to past, known, specific and adverse impacts – do you not suspect that other adverse impacts could occur under other conditions for which you may not have established a correlative parameter?
Under newly mandated directives, I would certainly hope that as long as the COGCC is willing to issue permitting for this fragile area that the COGCC demonstrate a more conscientious concern for potential impacts. A cursory collection of slime for the sake of identifying it as slime seems like a total waste of time unless you consider what conditions may have contributed to it’s sudden appearance and further examine other factual matters in association with it.
Regards, Lisa Bracken"
|Entry - 07-17-08
Seep 2008 Update -
Checked out the seep yesterday (July 16th 2008). Not much has changed other than the black seep area was a little drier at the time of the observation [9-10am], but moisture from cliff area may have changed drainage and is no longer feeding into the area - or at least as much.
Orange gunk and biofilm is still present - thought in the areas of the westerly and eastern ponded areas, the creek is higher and there is a brisk flow-through which seems to be preventing the gunk from becoming too prolific. However, on the photo to the right immediately below you can see how it is still pretty thick in areas above the water.
Noted only one spot of a little biofilm in the grasses up on the newly wetted area by the base of the cliff.
Photographed a similar area with no biofilm some hundred yards downstream (photo below). This is a very wet area above a braid in West Divide Creek, perhaps a hundred and fifty yards downstream. This photograph is of a similar small, relatively isolated wet area. Same shady conditions, similar degree of wetness, similar vegetative growth, but only one area (photo above near seep site) exhibits biofilm. The photo above, by contrast, is what we normally see in association with wetland areas.
This is a picture behind the black seep area where fluid (presumably water) has made its exit [07-17-08]
After a cumulative twenty minute rain shower on the 16th, which may or may not be relevant, we found bunches of tiny holes throughout much of the area. These appear to be vent holes - but they may also have been made by insects. The disturbance of one of these holes did not reveal a nest or insects underneath, and no insects were present around the holes at the time they were observed. These holes were differently sized, similar-looking around their rim and appeared randomly patterned - you can even see some scattered along the eroded edge of the sand below. The holes were also present in the mud areas. A section of the top photo is enlarged below it to show the details of two of the holes..
Then we more closely examined white corrosive-seeming stuff. It is light and powdery. If this is a seep caused by drilling and/or fracing. What if that white corrosive-looking substance is one of the chemicals used to increase productivity in fracing operations? Given the COGCC's lack of interest, we will probably never know. However, I have "officially" asked them to look into it in a letter copied below. It is pretty frustrating. We are not scientists and so do not know what to ask for, but there is little to no proactive initiative on the part of the COGCC, and they seem to want to put us in a position of having to raise specific questions relative to the specific scientific cause-effect involved in order to encourage them to any kind of response.
We've seen what this stuff does to sandstone - here, it has decimated a piece of dead plant matter near the black seep area. Is this what made my foot burn when it came into brief contact with the soil? [07-17-08]
You know, any reasonable person reserves a little doubt in their own mind about what they have seen or may be seeing. That's why I went back and hovered over the seep and filmed it for three minutes. That' why I continue to look for more clues, strive to determine consistency, detect a pattern and reconfirm everything again.... and again.... and again.
I was giving the COGCC credit that okay, maybe this is all okay - maybe, just maybe all of this is benign - even if it is a new seep. But the more we look at all of this, and think about all of this, the more I worry about not only what we can detect, but what is left undetected. I mean these are all visual clues that we ourselves can discern. Or that we can smell. That doesn't tell us a lot, though. Only that it isn't normal within this environment. But it doesn't tell us what is going on , what else may be going on - what other compounds of this event are present or may pose potentially detrimental effects.
Really, we probably shouldn't be nosing around down here, but there is no interest from the COGCC to put on their gear and really check things out - like any qualified investigator would do - particularly in light of events from 2004 and renewed drilling - which no one is sure is safe.
So here we are, in our flip flops with the dogs, taking pictures taking video and poking at things with sticks to see what we can see. Cripes. But this is our home, and if we don't know what may be present, then we wouldn't take any precaution. I don't know what the heck this white stuff is, but without really getting face to face with it and grubbing around finding more clues, we wouldn't have known the extent of it - and still probably don't.
If we're a little nervy about all of this, the COGCC has itself to thank. The way the seep investigation was handled in 2004 was a farce even by lay standards. Had it been seriously investigated with an eye toward comprehensive impacts, the Arbaney incident would have been a factor and it would not have taken so long to institute a soil gas survey, residents would have been questioned, more air quality samples would have been collected, the aquatic study would have been completed, I could go on and on. Instead, the COGCC tightly controlled the scope of inquiry, keeping other agencies at arm's length through memoranda of agreement.
Maybe my expectation are just too high, but how come we can see this stuff and the very people who should be paying attention can't.... or won't.
We used to enjoy carefree family picnics in Summerhawk, so did our neighbors. But not anymore. And it feels like so much has been taken away and continues to be taken away. No one from EnCana lives here - no one from the COGCC lives here. This is no loss to them - this produces no emotional distress for them. This is not their family or their home. And their lack of real, human, personal investment in what we've devoted our lifetimes to care for is painfully obvious.
This little leopard frog hopped onto a rock adjacent to the westerly ponded area where DOW photographed the dead crawdad. It held perfectly still and allowed me to photograph it from all sides for probably four minutes before hopping into the creek. Do I think it brought me a message? Yes. But I was so delighted to see it and so intent on photographing it while it waited patiently, that my receiver was shrouded by too many selfish emotions. I continue to revisit that moment, disregard my flurry of delight while attempting to see beyond that curtain. Time and distance do not mar the spiritual connectivity of such messages, but I have to identify what all shrouded it and peel that away in order to get to the essence of it. This poor frog waited and waited and tried to speak to me, all the while probably perceiving me as quite the flibberty gibbit. [07-17-08] Heaven knows how you perceive me!
07-20-08 Letter to COGCC requesting a more concerted attempt at investigating this unknown substance
On July 11th,, in our observations of the new seep area, we noted the presence of what appears to be a corrosive substance. It produces a white, and sometimes orange substance which looks similar in appearance to substances associated with a corroded automotive battery terminal. We noted that this substance appears to at one time have been flowing across the ground, has dried in a flowing pattern which is, in one area, opaque, yellowish and milky. We have also noted where this substance appears to have emerged from behind sandstone boulders, and where the two (boulder and unknown substance) have come into contact, the sandstone boulder appears to be severely deteriorated. Further, this substance has been noted on plant matter – living and dead – and where it has been in contact with the dead vegetation, it appears to have utterly decimated it as well. Perhaps this substance has something to do with why my foot burned when it came into very brief contact with the mud near this same area.
We are concerned that if this seep is related to drilling in the vicinity, this substance may be related to fracing chemicals used to liberate more gas from sandstone compositions. The substance certainly seems to be producing a chemical conversion effect when it comes into contact with the sandstone boulders.
We ask that you investigate and sample this substance, since it appears to be producing a negative impact within this environment which is adjacent a pubic water supply source.
Again, our observations continue to be posted on this website: www.journeyoftheforsaken.com
Specifically, you can view pages relative to the seep at www.journeyoftheforsaken.com/dividecreekseep2008.htm (there are now four pages devoted to this event).
Thank you for your continued interest and
concern in this matter.
2008 Divide Creek Seep
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
All contents of this site, unless
otherwise noted are copyrighted by Lisa Bracken, 2007-2010 (or present). All rights are