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Know the West

Rulison drilling may spread contaminants

  Jennie Lay's very nice piece on gas drilling near the 1969 Rulison Plowshare nuclear blast shows a slightly misplaced concern of local residents that radioactive materials might be released by the new drilling (HCN, 3/7/05: Drilling could wake a sleeping giant). Their bigger concern should be contamination of groundwater by the nasty stuff put in the ground for hydrofracturing. Although it seems a fool’s errand to be seeking gas by the same technique that failed to produce significant quantities using nuclear dynamite, that will not stop them from trying. Both the crude models attempting to explain behavior of gas flow beneath the surface, and the company’s claim that all the radioactive gas was burned off in 1971, should not be believed. How either the radioactive contamination or the new contamination from drilling and hydrofracturing will be distributed underground is a big unknown.

Howard Wilshire
Sebastopol, California