Neighbors are fed up with fracking smells, noises in Erie subdivision

Posted at 6:49 PM, Sep 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-14 23:11:13-04

ERIE, Colo. -- The fracking debate over how close is too close to homes is playing out in Erie's Vista Ridge subdivision.

"We paid extra for the view, and now it's been marred," said resident Christiaan van Woudenberg.

Van Woudenberg's house is less than a thousand feet from the Pratt fracking site, and he can see another drill site to the west. Both are operated by Crestone Peak Resources.

"The smell was like someone had stuffed your noise into a gas tank of a diesel truck," explained van Woudenberg. "I haven't been able to spend a single evening outside."

Neighbors are fed up with the smell, and constant noises coming from the site at all hours of the day.

"The noise is what keeps us up at night," said van Woudenberg.

He took a video of the noise with a sound monitor late Wednesday night, and again Thursday morning.

"Not only do you see it, but today, in particular, you hear it," van Woudenberg says in the video.  

You can hear a loud rumbling noise coming from behind the sound barrier in the video he recorded on his cell phone.

"Highest peak there at about 70 decibels on the C-scale," said van Woudenberg, which is the highest measurement he's taken with his equipment.

"Wake people up at literally three and four in the morning," said Ani Hulse, who lives down the street.

Hulse said they've tried to get the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates the industry, to take action.

"We've gone through COGCC to file complaint, after complaint, after complaint, after complaint," she explained. "Have by far more complaints than any in Colorado history."

Hulse said, aside from sound barriers Crestone Peak Resources has put up around the fracking sites, and an odor ordinance town trustee's recently passed, the assault on their senses won't stop.

"I was really hopeful after the Firestone tragedy that they would do a little but more on the state level and federal level, quite frankly," said Hulse.

"It's impacted our immediate quality of life, and we don't know what the health impacts are ten, twenty, thirty years down the road," said van Woudenberg.

Crestone Peak Resources said it will be fracking at both sites until at least December.

Bridget Ford, a spokeswoman for the operator provided Denver7 with the following statement:

We are aware of the complaints and take them very seriously. We’ve worked hard for many months to maintain compliance with state regulations and address concerns brought to us by the Erie Board of Trustees and our neighbors. It’s important to note that to date, Crestone has not been found in violation of any noise or odor regulations at either of these sites.
We recognize that there are temporary impacts associated with our activity – it’s why we have spent more than a million dollars in mitigation at these two sites. We’ve sought alternatives to the drilling fluids we used and installed equipment to reduce both noise and odors from our locations. In addition, we engaged with an internationally known organization called Scentroid to help us understand and address odors from our drilling sites. We have been able to make some changes to our operations based on their assessments so far.
We continue to monitor these sites 24/7 to ensure we remain in compliance throughout our operations. We hope that neighbors will reach out to us to share their concerns and give us the opportunity to address them if possible.

Todd Hartman, a COGCC spokesperson, said the state agency investigates every complaint it receives and has put additional monitoring measures in place in the area where the complaints have been focused.

"Over the months that these sites in question have been active, COGCC has in a few instances detected offsite odors," said Hartman. "The agency has worked with Crestone on various odor control techniques. COGCC and the operator have also worked aggressively to address concerns and complaints related to noise."

Hartman also said agency personnel ran a sound survey Wednesday and found levels were well within compliance while operations with occurring.