Commission revisits sound levels issue at natural gas wells
Carbon lawmakers adopted parameters for how near to residential structures gas wells can be placed at a recent county commission meeting. Now, the officials must determine the acceptable sound levels coming from the well operations.
The issue came before the Carbon County Commission during a regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 19. At the conclusion of the session, the situation was not completely resolved.
At the commission meeting, the staff from the planning and zoning department presented recommendations from the county board on the matter. The planning board recommended that the decibel level for well noise should be 55 dB at the well head.
"Since the last meeting of the planning commission, we have looked at some new information and I don't believe from a common sense standpoint that level is practical," said Dave Levanger, the director of planning and zoning for the county. "I think this regulation now needs a touch more work on it before it is approved."
Levanger pointed out that, considering past tests, the restriction might be onerous.
"After looking at the tests we did a couple of years ago and talking with those involved, I am thinking maybe we need to look at what the maximum level should be at the edge of the well pad," stated Levanger. "I am now thinking in the vicinity of 40dB at 150 feet from the well head."
Jean Semborski of Conoco-Phillips agreed with Levanger, indicating that company readings measured sound levels at 40 to 50 dB on the edges of the drilling pads.
"Actually, the property (pad) around the well head is either private or controlled property and under the safety restrictions of the company that is operating the well," said Levanger on Monday morning. "The county has the right to look at noise levels produced that go off the property, but anything on the property is a different matter."
There had been an inquiry from one natural gas company concerning grandfathering in wells located near residential areas.
"The concern was concerned with if someone built a home near a well that already exists," he told the commission. "But I told them that this new regulation would apply to only existing homes, not ones built after a well was put in."
The commission discussed the situation and decided the noise issue should be sent back to the planning board for more refinement.
The commission, after a few weeks of consideration, also picked law firms to fulfill two year contracts for legal services to the county. David Allred was selected once again as the public defender for the county with a contract of $67,000 per year. For juvenile and civil cases Jeremiah Humes was selected at a cost of $22,932 per year. Finally for conflicts, where a contracted attorney has a conflict because of clients or other interests, the commission picked Sam Chiara at a cost of $83,000 per year. That contract would also include any and all appeals in court cases as well.
The commission also approved Lynna Gray to be the newest member of the county planning and zoning commission. Gray replaces Geri Hamilton who resigned because she was moving out of the area. The new member is also a resident of Miller Creek, like Hamilton was.
Bids for 5,000 tons of 3/4" minus road base were also opened at the meeting. Bob Pero, the county clerk, said that only one bid had been received and that was from Nielsen Construction for $4 a ton. The commission approved bid as being the one they would accept.