Letter to the Editor: Appalling
On April 30, 2008, Ivan White and I took Mike Stark, reporter, and Doug Pizac, photographer, of the Associated Press into Nine Mile Canyon. Both had recently moved into Utah and were interested in seeing firsthand what was happening in Nine Mile Canyon as they had heard and read various reports regarding the drilling activity on the West Tavaputs Plateau.
On the way into the canyon we discussed the Nine Mile Canyon meeting hosted by Carbon County last month and how representatives from the governor's office, the Bureau of Land Management, Carbon and Duchesne commissions, Jones and DeMille Engineering, Bill Barrett Corporation (BBC) and many others were in attendance. We explained how a scope of work was going to be done, the road base would be analyzed, and various dust suppressant field tests would be setup and conducted. In the meeting BLM stated no mag-chloride would be used on their roads and the county commissions agreed not to use anything until the testing was done.
It was therefore appalling and extremely embarrassing to Ivan and me when we arrived at Harmon Canyon and saw that BBC had a contractor applying mag-chloride to the road from Harmon Canyon to the Cottonwood Bridge. The contractor had two motor graders, a drum roller and several water trucks working the road.
On the afternoon of May 1, I called Ray Hanson, Carbon County road supervisor, and caught him as he was leaving Nine Mile Canyon from one of his routine inspections. I wanted to find out if he knew anything about who had approved BBC application of the chemicals. He said he didn't know, but that BBC was applying mag-chloride when he got down into the canyon.
After talking to him I immediately called Commissioner Mike Milovich to see what was going on. Commissioner Milovich told me he had no idea this was happening and stated that in the above referenced meeting all agreed no more mag-chloride or anything else was to be used until the scope of work, soil testing and suppressant was completed. Commissioner Milovich told me he would get to the bottom of it.
On May 2, I was also able to converse with Curtis Page, the Carbon County engineer, regarding the issue and he gave me the same response as Commissioner Milovich.
All of the water trucks on the road last week gave the appearance of a publicity stunt to make BBC look good in relation to BLM's West Tavaputs DEIS. We think this action by BBC is totally unacceptable; they neither own the Nine Mile Canyon road nor the right-of-way. In my opinion BBC's actions exhibit a flagrant and total disregard for any and all authority. We think they should be required to remove all the material which is contaminated with the chemical magnesium chloride and dispose of it in an appropriate disposal site.
Regarding our objective on April 30th, the people from the Associated Press had us stop many, many times for photographs; they asked us many questions and thanked us for the Coalition's time.
They also said they wanted to come back again.