One natural gas well has been drilled and a second is nearly done in Payette County, as the natural gas industry settles into the local area.
A total of three permits have been submitted to drill wells in the county, with one permit awaiting approval for the third well location.
“It’s going well,” said John Foster, spokesman for Snake River Oil and Gas. “We’ve been very fortunate to be able to utilize a lot of Idaho businesses and residents in moving forward in drilling.”
The first well, which is located outside of New Plymouth, is completed, Foster said. You wouldn’t know it is even there, he said.
But one local resident, Alma Hasse, filed a public records request to the Idaho Department of Lands for an oil spill report.
Emily Callihan, public information officer at the Idaho Department of Lands, said her response to the record request made in July was that the reported spill was drilling mud and not diesel, as Hasse said she saw. Drilling mud is not hazardous, Callihan said.
Callihan said she acknowledged to Hasse that oil spills were mentioned several times in the new gas and oil legislation as well as the proper response to spills.
Technically, the records request was denied, because there was no spill and therefore no report.
“The spill absolutely did not take place,” Callihan said. “Inspections take place (on the drilling sites) as needed. In addition to the Department of Lands, other agencies, including other state agencies, are involved, including the (Idaho Department of Water Resources and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality)…it just depends on what part of the operation we’re at.”
The Department of Lands has a staff dedicated to making sure the regulations that are in place are being followed, and they go to the sites to inspect them.
“Everything that has happened so far has been normal,” Foster said of the operation. “We’re working closely with the Department of Lands.
“The big thing to report right now is there is no news,” Foster said. “The process is working, and it’s working like it should.”
(By Cherise Kaechele, The Independent-Enterprise/Argus Observer)
(See Letter to IDL about Smoke Ranch Well Site Spill (July 31) in the August 19 WIRT Newsletter: Idaho Drilling/Fracking Updates, Risks, & Resistance News)