Improperly Plugged and Abandoned Well is Source of Methane Leak in Anthem Highlands

By Jean Lim

The City and County of Broomfield (CCOB) announced on October 11 that the cause of the elevated level of methane found during routine soil gas testing in June near the Davis 43-6 well under Graham Peak Way in Anthem Highlands is likely the fact that Davis 43-6 was not properly plugged and abandoned. CCOB stated that, “The COGCC reconfirmed Oct. 11 that there is not an immediate risk to the residents in this area from methane associated with this situation. While the City and County of Broomfield appreciate that confirmation, we will remain vigilant in our monitoring, constant contact with COGCC, and contact with North Metro Fire Rescue District to get their updates on additional readings.”

CCOB Manager Jennifer Hoffman formally turned over the well to the Orphan Well Program of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to fix it, in a letter you can read here.

The operator of this well is no longer operating in Colorado, a common situation that continues to add to the tremendous backlog of COGCC remediation and to the huge cost burdens on Colorado taxpayers. CCOB asked the “COGCC to prioritize the work associated with the Davis 43-6 well, due to its suburban location. COGCC has committed to taking the next steps as quickly as possible to do monitoring and assessment, including continuous monitoring of combustible gases.”

CCOB estimates that the timetable will be:
“10/15/19 – Further review of laboratory results by COGCC staff; discussion with contractors and procurement needed to establish funding and make necessary equipment available
10/16/19 – Meeting with Broomfield to discuss next steps and logistics
Week of 10/21/19 – Additional assessment (e.g., taking additional deep probe samples)
Early November – If necessary, expose and replug well.”

CCOB stated that the COGCC will likely excavate a radius of 200 feet around the well location to do remediation of Davis 43-6.

Many residents have asked why the public was not informed about this safety risk sooner and why Extraction drilling operations are not being halted until remediation occurs, a question based on the possibility of a frac hit as in the 2017 Extraction Berthoud accident. CCOB has stated that the Extraction Livingston wellbores are not that close, but they have not released distances or a map. 

Also of note in CCOB’s announcement: “Broomfield is also making UL combustible gas detectors available for residents living at the locations listed [below]. To request a UL combustible gas detector please call 303.438.6382 or email, we have the monitors ready for distribution.”

– On Grahams Peak Way
– On Spanish Peak Way, south of Mount Powell Drive
– On Mount Powell Drive located from Spanish Peak Way, west to the end of the street