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Almost 400 Thornton community members filled the Rocky Top Middle School cafeteria to let Synergy Resource Corp. know their worries about possible well contamination, safety and increased truck traffic that could arise if the company installs up to 20 new oil and gas wells in their neighborhood.
Synergy Resource Corp. held a community meeting on Sept. 16, per Adams County’s request, to answer questions and address concerns of those affected by a proposal to drill the new wells at 140th Avenue and Franklin Street — directly in the middle of the Wadley Farms neighborhood.
The meeting quickly turned from informational to emotional when Craig Rasmuson, chief operating officer at Synergy, opened the floor for questions and concerns.
Rasmuson told the crowd that Synergy is trying to work with the community and address all the questions and concerns, but also mentioned throughout the night that this is a proposal: “I want to emphasize, we are in the second inning so all these things are on the table.”
Hot button topics:
An alternate site study is being conducted. Synergy is looking west of Interstate 25, but because of technology and its mineral rights, Synergy cannot go north and can only go a limited distance away from the proposed site. This process should be complete in the next 30 to 60 days.
: Residents are concerned about how the drilling of oil and gas wells will affect the well water they rely on. Synergy said it protects well water and has never had a contamination incident. Residents were not convinced.
: Many residents brought up what would happen if an explosion, or a fire, was to occur at the proposed site. One resident said the fire department serving their neighborhood does not have the resources (a foam truck) to deal with such an incident. Rasmuson said Synergy donates foam trucks to the stations that do not have them near their sites.
Residents were insistent on Synergy signing an agreement to pay for any damage done to homes in the area. Rasmuson said he is not aware of the company ever doing this before, and if damage occurred there would need to be an inspection done to make sure the property was not previously damaged.
The Wadley Farms neighborhood is zoned as agricultural, and the dirt roads support that. Residents were concerned with road maintenance, dust and resident safety from the high number of trucks that would drive to and from the site. Rasmuson used a chart to show predicted traffic numbers — at worst-case scenario, there would be up to 770 trucks per day at the peak time of drilling. But once drilling is completed, truck trips would reduce to, at most, 13 trucks per day, which Rasmuson said is equivalent to what the neighborhood sees now for existing wells.
From noise associated with up to almost 800 trucks per day to the noise accompanying up to 20 oil and gas wells, neighbors of the proposed site are already unhappy about the thought of lost sleep. Rasmuson said Synergy has already offered for some residents to visit existing wells to witness noise levels and report back. Synergy would also install sound walls up to 30 feet high during the loudest parts of drilling, and in the interest of aesthetics, it would plant trees around sound walls. Resident Jerry Nelson is especially concerned: “I have a noise-sensitive, autistic daughter. It was one sleepless night for you — this looks like many sleepless nights to me.”
Many expressed concern about what type of chemicals are used at a site like the proposed one, and what the neighborhood would be exposed to. Rasmuson said a pipeline infrastructure Synergy would want to use with this project would eliminate the opening of containers, thus reducing any leaks into the air.
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