Noble Energy’s plans to drill nearly 80 natural gas wells within three miles of the Project Rulison underground nuclear blast site in Garfield County recently received the go-ahead from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
None of the 79 wells approved by the BLM would be within the half-mile radius of the 1969 blast site that triggers state review by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, according to the paper, and the BLM appears satisfied with state and Department of Energy plans for dealing with oil and gas drilling near Rulison.
However, earlier this month, the Garfield County commissioners rejected the DOE’s “Path Forward” on the project – a plan to allow drilling closer and closer to the blast’s epicenter while incrementally monitoring soil, air and water for radiation.
The county’s main point of contention was what officials consider inadequate mineral-rights compensation for area landowners, many of whom feel the DOE’s plan makes them guinea pigs at the mercy of the oil and gas industry.
The original blast, nearly 8,500 feet below ground, was meant to free up natural gas in a massive atomic fracturing operation, but the gas that was recovered turned out to be too radioactive for commercial use.