Brief update on yesterday’s developments: A COGCC representative returned my phone call first thing this morning, and directed me to fill out a complaint form online. I have not received any response from either of the Encana representatives that I emailed regarding the flames and chemical burning odor noted yesterday evening.
For a while now, I’ve intended to comment on abandoned oil/gas well sites. Only recently did I learn that I live within several hundred feet of one.
When I moved to Vista Pointe a little more than 5 years ago, I didn’t think too much of the open space area near the home I had just purchased. It was actually a convenient place to walk my dog; my husband and I have frequently joked that our dog, Nicholas, seems to think it is part of his territory. In fact, on many walks, we have to do a “perimeter check” as Nicholas sniffs the entire circumference of the open space area. While walking through the field, I often wondered about the purpose of the large yellow metal pipe that juts out of the ground in the center of the space. Beyond that, I didn’t worry too much about it.
In late spring/early summer, we received an email from the Vista Pointe HOA that the open space would be developed into an “adult themed park.” While this cryptic description led us to wild speculation (what is an adult themed park? Las Vegas? Disneyland?), we soon realized when the work began in late September, that adult themed park is simply a way to say “landscaping and benches”. Of course, now there is also a gazebo (and the final touch — a roof — was just placed today).
The week that the drilling began at the Pratt site, a retro-style sign went up at the new park declaring its new name: Encana Park at Vista Pointe. I wanted to vomit when I first saw the sign. Sure, it is nice of Encana to invest in a park — but it feels dirty. It is almost as if Encana is saying “Hey, sorry for contaminating your community with noise and air pollution. Enjoy your new park. Now we’re even.” I told my husband that it also made me think of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when George has never been born, and Bedford Falls has sold out to Mr. Potter and become Pottersville. Erie should not be Encanaville.
So why was this patch of open space never developed? The answer lies in that yellow pipe that you can now gaze at from the comfort of a gazebo. I verified by contacting Encana, and ultimately the Vista Pointe HOA, that the pipe is a marker of a former well. The well has been plugged and capped: cement was injected into the well, and the metal casing was cut off below the surface. A cap was then welded onto the pipe, and a marker was placed.
Okay, so no big deal. It’s an abandoned well and cannot cause us any problems, right? Wrong! Cement often contracts and expands, leading to cracks. Erie already has problems with subsidence and the ground settling (just look at how many times they have had to repave portions of Vista Parkway). The trouble is, no one really knows what will ultimately happen to these wells — especially because no one is monitoring them once they are no longer active. There are reports of wells leaking with disastrous consequences. Here’s some scary reading: http://ecohearth.com/eco-zine/green-issues/1609-abandoned-leaking-oil-wells-natural-gas-well-leaks-disaster.html
So come visit Encana Park at Vista Pointe. My dog still likes it.