October 16, 2017

Antero gets extension to review Battlement Mesa Health Impact Assessment

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado — Antero Resources will have an extra month to review, and comment upon, a recently issued draft Health Impact Assessment (HIA) about the Battlement Mesa community.

The Garfield County commissioners on Monday agreed to a 30-day extension of the comment period for the HIA, which was written to give the county more information about the possible health effects of gas drilling inside the Battlement Mesa community boundaries.

The comment period was to expire at the end of March.

Antero has plans to drill up to 200 gas wells from nine drilling pads within the community, which has sparked considerable protest from some residents there.

The fears of the residents, in turn, prompted the county commissioners to seek the health assessment, which is meant to establish a baseline of public health conditions in the area prior to drilling.

Battlement Mesa is an unincorporated community of 5,000 or so people next door to Parachute in western Garfield County.

This is the second draft of the HIA, which is being written by the Colorado School of Public Health.

The first draft was released in the fall of 2010, but was pulled back for revisions after the gas industry and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment criticized the report’s methodology and results.

In the latest draft, according to the executive summary, “The principal findings of the HIA are that the health of Battlement Mesa residents will most likely be affected by chemical exposures, accidents/emergencies resulting from industry operations, and stress-related community changes.”

Antero asked for, and received, additional time to evaluate the 500-plus-page report.

The report’s authors, Dr. Roxanne Witter and Dr. John Adgate of the University of Colorado Denver, objected to the extension on the grounds that it would unnecessarily lengthen both the process and the report itself.

But the BOCC concluded that no real harm would be done to the report by extending the comment period, even if it means spending more on the School of Public Health’s contract and delaying a second phase of the health study.

Currently the county has committed more than $250,000 to the report, including funds for work necessitated by the extension approved by the BOCC in late 2010.

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