Impacted Resident Testimony

No Control: How the Oil and Gas Industry Keeps this Retirement Community in the Dark

by

Bob: “I’m Bob Robertson, and I live in Battlement Mesa, Colorado. I’ve lived here… I think it’s about six years now. Before this, I lived in Grand Junction, and then before that, it was Denver. So I’ve been in Colorado for almost all my life.”

Bernita: “I’m his wife, Bernita Grove Robertson, and I’ve lived in Battlement since 2004. The real oil and gas activity, real close to Battlement, didn’t start until 2006. It got real close to us.”

Bob: “The closest well to us is probably–”

Bernita: “About 1200 feet.”

Bob: “Probably about a quarter mile.”

Bernita: “And that’s a lot farther than the 500 feet that’s required by law. And we’re like, ‘Oh my god…500 feet is nothing.’”

Sometimes the smells were so bad, we had to come inside and turn our swamp cooler off and shut the doors. I mean, it was really wretched. Sometimes the noises would be that bad, too.”

Bob: “There’s been lots of leaks. When was it– was it last summer? We were across the street with our neighbors, having a barbecue. And we’re sitting out there, and the smells just got so bad. So we call up the gas company, and we say, ‘What’s going on?’ And, you know, of course, they go right out and check it and everything, and they come back and say, ‘Oh, a truck was parked the wrong way, and they had a valve turned on that they shouldn’t have, but…we fixed it. So it’s okay.’ …Well, yeah. It’s not okay.”

Bernie: “I’m sure they did fix it, but–”

Bob: “But what about us, breathing all them fumes and stuff?”

“We drove up the valley one day, and they were flaring all over the place. I mean, that would’ve run our community for a year, what they flared off in two days. It was just astounding.”

Bernita: “I realized at one point that my nose was stuffed all time. And it has been, ever since 2006, which is sort of crazy. Sometimes the smells were so bad, we had to come inside and turn our swamp cooler off and shut the doors. I mean, it was really wretched. Sometimes the noises would be that bad, too.”

Bob: “On a nice summer day, when it’s pretty warm outside, you like to be outside doing activities, you know. Having barbecues and everything. But we couldn’t go out, because the smells were so bad. And then, we come in the house, and we couldn’t have our swamp cooler running, because it pulls all the air in.”

Bernita: “It smelled like a combination of engine oil and other things like that. And it wasn’t always there, you know? You’d call and complain, but it would be gone by the time you got someone. Until the next thing happened. I mean, the problem is, this was an ongoing event. People don’t realize that when they don’t live with it.”

Bernita: “They’re proposing to build five well pads in Battlement Mesa. And each pad would have somewhere between 23 and 28 wells on it. That’s a huge number of wells, for the size of this place. Battlement Mesa is only 8.4 square miles. And more than 4,000 people live inside our boundaries.”

Bob: “There’s two pads in the first phase of development, and three in the second.”

Bernita: “The first two pads– one would be right below a bluff that has a lot of homes on it, and very close to our water treatment plant, and the Colorado River. The second one would be up the hill from that. It’d be within 1000 feet of all sorts of houses, on multiple sides. Then there are possibly three more. Two of them are right on the golf course, on the first nine holes. One would be right outside where you tee off for the first hole. And then the third possible one is–”

Bob: “It’s over by the middle school, isn’t it?”

Bernita: “Somewhere in that area. There’s a middle school, and a clinic, there’s a city park, and there’s a nice little church – and so it’s hard to tell where in there it’s planned. And, you know. Who knows.”

“Every meeting we go to, they say, ‘You should’ve known, the place was built for oil and gas development.’ Well…no. It wasn’t. This is a covenant-controlled community. We can’t leave our garbage can out on the curb for too long, or we’ll get fined for it. If we have our stereo too loud, we’ll get fined for it. Yet they can drill all these gas wells around here, with all the smells, and spills, and all the noise that comes with them, and nothing happens to ‘em.”

“When we moved to Battlement Mesa, we planned to retire here. Because it was such a beautiful place. But now, we don’t know. We don’t know if we can continue to live here much longer, because it’s affecting our health. Like our neighbor… she’s eighty years old. She’s been pretty healthy her whole life, but when they started drilling this well down here, she started getting nose bleeds all the time, and couldn’t understand why. And several other people around here had the same thing happen. Nosebleeds, and eyes watering all the time. In one year, we lost three animals. It just seemed kind of weird, that within just a few months, all three animals dropped dead. And it was right after they started drilling that well.”