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Rulison update:

January 30, 2006

A quick update on my post on the Rulison Project:

I didn’t notice the close timing on this one, but the Denver Post’s David Olinger reported on the area yesterday. Apparently, a Texas oil company is interested in digging nearby the blast region:Map showing the reigons affected by the Rulison project (click for larger image and article)

In March, Colorado regulators will decide whether to let a Texas gas company bore holes as close as 900 feet to the radioactive blast site below Battlement Mesa.

Scientists are assuring people it is safe… sort of:
Typically, many radioactive elements “would be pretty much held in the glassy melt” of rocks around the blast, said Darleane Hoffman, a nuclear chemist who studied their movement from a Nevada test site. But “if I lived there, I would want to see them test the gas samples.”

Some are looking at this one more pragmatically than those behind the Mars proposal, suggesting they wait until the Department of Energy reviews the site in 2008:
The federal study aims to gauge whether radioactive byproducts have migrated from the blast site, and if so, how far. Secondly, it will inquire whether “some man-made new influence” could affect their subterranean movement, Sanders said.

One Garfield County commissioner, Tresi Houpt, argues that Presco’s drilling plans should be postponed in the meantime. “As long as there’s a need to conduct the study, I think it’s beneficial to see what the results are,” she said. “I think it’s irresponsible to do otherwise.”

Many residents are also expressing their doubts about plans to drill:
“We’re very dubious of their claims that nothing can go wrong,” said Duke Cox, president of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance. “Things do go wrong. They go wrong all the time.”

Presco had one recent accident near the existing buffer zone. According to a state report, its drilling mud hit an underground spring and spilled into Battlement Creek, where an inspector found discolored water 3 1/2 miles downstream.

That alarmed Pat Warren, the nearest full-time resident to the nuclear test site.

“I went out one day, and the water was white. Holy mackerel,” she said.

Lovely. The article also includes some vivid descriptions of the September 10, 1969 blast, if anyone is interested.