EARTHWORKS

Clark, Wyoming

October 21, 2009

Clark, Wyoming is a small community just outside Yellowstone National Park, on the east side of the Beartooth Mountains. It overlies natural gas reserves that the natural gas drilling industry has exploited since the 1960's

Clark, and the spectacular Beartooth Front that surrounds it, are home to outstanding wildlife and recreational opportunities, productive ranch land, and Wyoming's only "Wild and Scenic" river, the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone.

Gas development in Clark has been speculative and small over the years. Unfortunately, it has had significant negative impacts on Clark. Most prominently, a gas well blowout at a Windsor Energy, LLC. property that contaminated drinking water aquifers -- polluting drinking water wells and threatening many more. Cleanup costs are estimated to be between one and ten million dollars, though this can not be known for sure until the final remediation plan is in place.

Credit: Clark Resource Council Bennet Creek Prospect Well Site, Clark, WY
Credit: Clark Resource Council

Crosby Well Blowout
On August 11, 2006 a Nabors drilling rig encountered an overpressured zone at a depth of 8,500 feet. Methane pushed drilling fluids and condensates through the subsurface, contaminating both aquifers in the Line Creek drainage and resulting in the Crosby 25-3 gas well blowout. Twenty five homes were evacuated, and for 3 days 8 million cubic feet of explosive methane and condensates were released into the atmosphere as the company try to "kill" the well. Two weeks after the blowout, the state of Wyoming gave Windsor permission to resume drilling on the blowout site.

Since the blowout, contamination plumes have continued to move. In the shallow aquifer, 10 million cubic feet of groundwater, an area the size of more than 100 Olympic swimming pools, has moved through the contaminated area and dumped as much as 300,000 gallons of contaminated water daily in Line Creek, which flows into the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River. More contamination is found in the deeper bedrock zones.

The plumes have contaminated drinking water aquifers, private water wells, and natural springs with benzene, diesel range organics, and a host of other toxic chemicals. More than 20 downstream drinking water wells are at risk.

Windsor Bankruptcy Looming
Recently Windsor Energy put its assets up for bid. If no buyer is found, residents fear, the next logical step is bankruptcy, leaving the cleanup of the community's groundwater, and the cleanup of its pollution in jeopardy


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Tagged with: yellowstone, wyoming, oil and gas, fracking