Category: Security

Slap Down! Mesa County Commissioner Scott Mcinnis Rebukes Ultra Right Wingnut, Defends All the Good the Federal Government Does

Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis verbally slapping down an ideologically pure ultra right wing nut who spoke before them multiple times on Monday, Feb. 8, 2016

Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis verbally dressed down an ideologically pure Mesa County ultra right wing nut who spoke before them on Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, who urged them not to accept federal funds to fix a dangerous flood area along I-70 where one person has already been killed

In a jaw-dropping political turnabout at Monday’s (2/8/16) Mesa County Commissioner meeting, the county’s farthest ultra-right wing nuts out-right winged the regular right wing nuts, resulting in arch conservative Commissioner Scott Mcinnis strongly defending — yes, defending — all the good the federal government does for Mesa County citizens and our quality of life.

The fireworks started with a discussion of whether Mesa County should accept a $2.1 million grant to build a detention pond in Bosley Wash at the bottom of the Bookcliffs. The wash has been the site of several flash floods in recent years resulting one person getting killed, several private properties being repeatedly covered in mud and silt and massive mudflows pouring over I-70.  Bosley Wash endangers a total of 200 properties near the base of the Bookcliffs between Clifton and Palisade.

Rep. Yeulin Willett: Let Those Ladies Wear Pink!

Rep. Willett -- What world is he living in? It ain't Mesa County any more!

Photo Credit: Facebook

Things aren’t going too well for folks here in Mesa County, but you wouldn’t know it from what Colorado House Representative Yeulin Willett is up to.

Rep. Willett is sponsoring a bill to make it legal for women to wear pink when hunting.

Yes, isn’t that just so wonderful of him to consider what the little ladies would prefer to wear in the woods?

In the mean time, more Mesa County residents than ever are living in poverty, falling into homelessness and freezing in the cold, working at low-paying jobs, more District 51 kids than ever are going hungry and more of our citizens are committing suicide.

Need We Ask Why?

Mesa County has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation, and most suicides are by gunshot wound. Need we wonder why?

Mesa County has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation, and most suicides in our area are from gunshot wounds. The above photos show how the local gun culture contributes to this situation. If the most common method of suicide in Mesa County was arson, would hardware stores put their blow torches on sale?

What the Grand Junction Economic Partnership Won’t Tell You About the Grand Valley

Open burning in Mesa County creates traffic hazards as well as cardiac and respiratory hazards for many residents

Open burning in Mesa County creates traffic hazards and poses a cardiac and respiratory threat to many residents for months out of the year

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP) recently revealed an attractive new website to try to lure more educated people to relocate to Mesa County, but it avoids telling the whole story about what people face when they move here.

Hazardous Waste Capital of Colorado

One important thing people need to know when considering a move to the Grand Valley is that Mesa County is the hazardous waste dump capital of the state. Mesa County is home to the largest radioactive hazardous waste repository in the state, the Cheney Repository, a 94 acre industrial waste site completed in 1994. The Cheney site sits on the flanks of the scenic Grand Mesa, near another hazardous waste site the Mesa County Commissioners approved in 2012, Alanco Energy’s Deer Creek frackwater disposal site. That facility currently consists of 8 acres of open evaporative ponds. Trucks of full of contaminated frackwater drive from rig sites for hundreds of miles around to dump their loads there, and the noxious odors emanating from the Deer Creek facility have been making Mesa County residents for miles around sick with headaches, vomiting, sore throats, bloody noses and respiratory illnesses. Despite years of pleading for help, the county commissioners have done nothing to help the situation. Alanco owns another 160 acres at the same site, and hopes to expand its stinky frackwater and other hazardous waste dump operations. Given the hearty embrace the Mesa County Commissioners have given past hazardous waste dumps, it’s likely to happen, too.

Help Whitewater Residents End Their Hazardous Waste Hell

Whitewater residents' petition seeking help to get rid of the sickening stench of Alanco's frackwater pits.

Whitewater residents’ petition seeking help to get rid of the sickening stench of Alanco’s frackwater pits.

Whitewater residents are begging other Mesa County residents to help them, and boy, do they need our help.

Imagine you’ve bought some peaceful acreage in the outskirts of Mesa County. You finally realize your dream of owning your own land. You build a house, move in and start enjoying the beauty, quiet, views and proximity to wildlife that the area offers.

Then one day, a stench akin to metallic excrement wafts over your house. It’s doesn’t just stay for a minute. It’s not there for just an hour. It’s permanent. The stench is so strong it forces your family indoors on nice summer evenings. You have to close all your doors and windows in midsummer to try to escape it. Then your family starts getting sore throats and headaches. Your kids start having nosebleeds and vomiting. You contact local and state authorities for help, to no avail. Whatever you do — no matter how many letters you write, phone calls you make or public hearings you go to — nothing changes.

You’re stuck with it.

Welcome to the world of Whitewater residents living within smelling distance of Alanco Energy’s Deer Creek frackwater evaporation ponds.

In 2012, the County Commissioners approved construction of Alanco’s hazardous waste disposal facility in the Whitewater area. It now accepts contaminated water from fracked wells 24/7 for hundreds of miles around. The facility evaporates the contaminated water into the air to get rid of it, but it’s also Whitewater residents’ air. People who live downwind are forced to breathe everything Alanco’s evaporation pits are pumping into the air, and it’s making them sick.

No Help

Whitewater residents have been struggling to get a stop put to the harmful stench since 2013. They’ve begged Alanco Energy Services, their elected officials and health and environmental agencies from Denver to Grand Junction for help for years, all to no avail. No person and no agency has helped them. They’ve been helpless to fight the problem and continue to breathe the contaminated air around their homes and get sick.

Now they are warning other Mesa County residents that they could be next if the Commissioners keep approving this type of industrial hazardous waste development in Mesa County. They’re also asking their fellow Mesa County residents for help by signing petitions demanding commissioners either end their hell once and for all, or shut down Alanco’s hazardous stink pits.

The petition says:

Background: The Deer Creek Evaporative Waste Facility located at 5180 Highway 50 in Whitewater, began accepting “produced water” from oil and gas operations in August, 2012, despite objections from nearby residents. In September, 2013, residents living in the surrounding area began submitting complaints regarding offensive odors emanating from the facility. Complaints were addressed to the Mesa County Planning Committee, Health Department, County Commissioners, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Alanco Energy Services, owners and operators of the facility. Odors described as “metallic” and “sickening”have often forced residents to inhibit outdoor activities and retreat indoors and close windows. Residents have experienced adverse health conditions such as headaches, dizziness, bloody noses and vomiting, which they believe are associated with the odors. Repeated complaints over a two year period have resulted in only short-term solutions with continued promise of future remedies.

Action petitioned: We, the undersigned, believe area residents have the right to full and healthy enjoyment of their property and have endured Alanco’s incompetent practices for too long. We contend that Alanco, in acting irresponsibly, sets and unhealthy precedent for prospective industrial development in Mesa County and across the entire Western Slope. Viable alternatives for treating produced water exist. Therefore, we urge our elected representatives to require Alanco to utilize proven, safe and effective treatment methodologies, or revoke the company’s Permit

You and Your Family Could Be Next

The Deer Creek frackwater disposal site (Photo credit: Mel Safken, Whitewater)

The Deer Creek frackwater disposal site (Photo credit: Mel Safken, Whitewater)

The Deer Creek frackwater disposal facility and Whitewater residents’ plight is a lesson, and a red flag to all of us. All Mesa County residents (other than the commissioners themselves, of course) currently run the risk of having a hazardous waste facility approved close enough to your homes to impact your health, quality of life and property value. If the county commissioners green light more facilities like Alanco’s hazardous stink pits and then refuse to remedy the problems these facilities cause the way they’ve failed to do in Whitewater, the rest of us run the risk of the same kind of treatment. The way the current Mesa County Commissioners revere oil and gas development, it’s a likely scenario.

It’s time for all Mesa County residents to help our Whitewater neighbors regain their health, environment and property values, and help protect ourselves from getting overrun by dangerous industrial development. You can do it by signing and circulating the petition, and showing the commissioners we all care about this disastrous situation.

To download, print and sign Whitewater residents’ petition to the Mesa County Commissioners, click here.

 

.

G.J. Gun Club Protests Continued U.S. Gun Violence

Grand Junction Gun Club Protest

Photo Credit: Lee Gelatt Photography http://www.leegelattphotography.com/

Grand Junction Gun Club members held signs and waved at noon today at 7th Street and Patterson Road to protest the escalating epidemic of gun violence in the U.S. and demand sensible gun regulations, like closing loopholes in the law requiring background checks for gun purchases.

The group turned out in response to Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which organized similar rallies across the country including in Washington, D.C. today. Stay-at-home mom Shannon Watts founded Moms Demand Action on December 15, 2012, in response to the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 elementary school children and 6 school staff members were massacred. Moms Demand Action wants state and federal legislators enact common-sense gun reforms.

Photo Credit: Lee Gelatt

Photo Credit: Lee Gelatt

Gun Violence Protest in Grand Junction

In Grand Junction, protesters stood on the busy corner in front of St. Mary’s Hospital in clear, sunny 80-degree weather holding signs saying “No More Massacres,” “End Gun Violence,” “Background Checks for Guns” and “Whatever it Takes.” The group got plenty of thumbs-ups and honks of approval from drivers passing by, as well as curious looks and even some middle fingers and angry shouts from drivers who didn’t support their efforts.

Photo Credit: Lee Gelatt Photography

Photo Credit: Lee Gelatt Photography

In the U.S., nearly 8 children are shot and killed every day, and Colorado has the dubious distinction of now being home to a growing list of notorious gun massacres: The Chuck-Cheese killings in 1993, the Columbine High School mass killing in 1999 and the Aurora Theater Massacre in 2012. And the legacy continues: at the same time protesters were holding their signs in Grand Junction today, yet another juvenile male was shot in Aurora, Colorado, resulting in three schools being locked down.

Have you had enough of gun violence in our country? Want to see the U.S. start doing something to reduce these now-common tragedies? To join the anti gun violence cause locally and get word of upcoming gun sense activities in Grand Junction, go to the Grand Junction Gun Club’s Facebook page.

 

July 4th, 2015 Mayhem Aftermath

Illegal Fireworks cause damage in Mesa County

11.28 acres of dry brush behind several houses in northwest Grand Junction were burned last night as a result of illegal bottle rockets being set off by a family on Chestnut Ave.

Firefighting and law enforcement resources in Mesa County were stretched thin last night as Independence Day festivities got out of control and the use of illegal fireworks abounded across the County.

A major brush fire that started at around 10:00 p.m. near 26 1/2 and G 1/2 Roads was actually at the west end of Chestnut Ave. The resident whose house was most in danger from the fire reported that a family across the street setting off illegal bottle rockets in the middle of Chestnut Ave. started the fire. One of the bottle rockets drifted on the wind and fell to the ground in the field behind their house, setting the brush on fire. Fortunately no structures were burned and no one, including any firefighters, were hurt. A firefighter on the scene Sunday reported that at 3:00 a.m. last night the flames were still three feet high, and that at one point the fire jumped a paved road, but firefighters were able to stop it. By 1:00 p.m. Sunday, four fire trucks, including a brush tender called down from Rifle, were still on the scene with a hose hooked up to a nearby fire hydrant, and the fire had been substantially put out. The fire burned a total of 11.28 acres.

Fireworks caused another accidental fire perilously close to this apartment complex on 25 1/2 Road, just north of Pomona Elementary School

Scorched tree trunks and landscaping show fireworks caused yet another accidental fire perilously close to this apartment complex on 25 1/2 Road, just north of Pomona Elementary School

Evidence of a second accidental fire being set last night due to fireworks use was apparent nearby at an apartment complex at 622  25 1/2 Road, just north of Pomona Elementary School. Dry landscaping had caught fire, very nearly setting trees next to the apartments on fire.

Lax law enforcement against the sale and use of illegal fireworks, combined with careless use and usually hot, dry weather endanger hundreds of people every Independence Day in Mesa County. Report use of illegal fireworks in your neighborhood immediately after first sight by calling 911.

Independence Day Mayhem in Mesa County

HappyIndependenceDayIndependence Day is Mesa County offered fun for some, but caused a tremendous amount of trouble and expense for citizens in the evening due to multiple fireworks-caused fires, intoxicated drivers, people angry at neighbors who continued to blast fireworks off late into the night, loose dogs running scared and a host of other problems.

Someone using illegal fireworks started a major fire at 26 and G 1/2 Roads around 10:00 p.m. on Independence Day. The fire lit up the night sky with an orange glow and could be seen for well over mile away. The fire caused evacuation of several houses and burned a wood pile and barn. Grand Junction Fire Department engines 4, 5 and a BLM brush truck responded to the fire. Despite the glow of the fire being visible and smoke smell filling the air for miles around, people living in the immediate area continued blowing off illegal fireworks, which were visible in the night sky along with the blaze.

Fires were also reported on Buffalo Drive on the Redlands and Bean Ranch Road in Whitewater, where a fire initially reported as 100 ft in diameter quickly grew to 1/2 acre by 11:00 p.m., with flames visible from Highway 50. The Bean Ranch Road fire was reportedly on BLM land with no one attending to it.

It was also a busy night for law enforcement. An elderly woman at 2856 1/2 Elm Ave. called law enforcement at 11:16 p.m., extremely anxious about fireworks being thrown into her yard and threatening to go outside with her gun and kill the people who kept setting them off if law enforcement didn’t come immediately and make them stop.

Law enforcement responded to many calls regarding intoxicated people stumbling around at Lincoln Park and on the streets, as well as drunken drivers throughout the valley weaving and going going off the sides of roadways. At 11:12 p.m., an intoxicated man reportedly passed out on the street approximately 200 yards east of 30 and E Roads. Stray dogs were reported running loose from Loma to Orchard Mesa and Animal Control was called.

Another brush fire was reported on Highway 50 at mile marker 47 at 11:06.p.m.

“We’re getting slammed,” law enforcement reported.

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Junction’s Growing Hate Community

This vehicle provides a sample of the hate-filled mentality of many citizens of Mesa County, Colorado

As the feds mull hate crime charges against Dylann Roof, the shooter in the June 17 massacre at a historic black South Carolina church, the presence of hatred, bigotry and intolerance is growing more evident in and around Grand Junction every day, and it’s not a comforting sight.

Remember this hate-filled, wing-nut truck spotted in Whitewater a few weeks ago?

 

The truck belongs to a local guy named “Marc” who operates a business that manufactures fake fiberglass rocks sized and shaped specifically to hide an arsenal of firearms. Marc designed the rocks to hide rifles, in particular an M4 carbine semi-automatic rifle, and according to his e-commerce website, “a butt load of ammunition.” Marc’s fake rocks come with a pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution, and they sell for $925 each. Marc also makes fake, hollowed-out tree stumps designed to hide small arms, like pistols.

The front page of Marc’s e-commerce website bears a threatening “WARNING” to all potential customers. He writes,

If you…

  • Are a liberal or in anyway support the willful destruction of America by this [Obama] regime or…
  • Refuse to recognize that this “shining city on the hill” was founded on Christian principles or…
  • Regard English as your “second language” and are content to let it remain as such…

DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER PURCHASING MY PRODUCT! [MY PRODUCTS] ARE HANDCRAFTED BY PATRIOTS FOR PATRIOTS!

So right up front as part of his business plan, Marc parades his paranoia and intolerance of people with differing political opinions, religions and nationalities.  Below is a photo taken from Marc’s fake rock website, showing Marc and a friend, armed to the teeth with powerful weapons, posing along side the truck he has splattered with paranoid messages.

"Marc" proudly poses alongside his paranoid, hater truck

“Marc” proudly poses alongside his truck

What’s really troubling is that Marc is not an anomaly in the Grand Junction area. He is one of a growing number of Mesa County business owners who are “out” about the hatred and disgust they harbor towards area residents who are different from them. They revile, condemn and insult ethnic minorities, political progressives, women, people of other nationalities and religions, and people of no religion — in short, anyone who differs from them in their beliefs, physical appearance or cultural background.

The Worst Case of Juror Abuse in the U.S. is Right Here in Grand Junction

ServeWithFearMarilyn Charlesworth of Grand Junction, Colorado, has started a GoFundMe campaign asking for help to pay the mounting legal fees arising from her jury service of 11 years ago.

Charlesworth is the victim of the worst case of juror abuse in American history. It has dragged on for eleven years now past the time of her jury service, and has utterly ruined the life of a woman who responded to a jury summons she got in the mail, as all American citizens are required to do by law as part of their citizenship.

What is juror abuse?

Gun Safety Advocates Outnumber Gun Nuts at W. Slope Hearing on SB 175

ALL IN FAVOR? - Only two people -- Mesa County Commissioner John Justman and one other person -- showed up to testify in favor of making large-capacity gun magazines legal again in Colorado at today's hearing on SB 175 at CMU

Only two people — Mesa County Commissioner John Justman and one other person — showed up to testify in favor of re-legalizing large-capacity ammunition magazines in Colorado at today’s hearing on SB 175 at CMU

Grand Junction citizens who support keeping Colorado’s ban on large capacity gun magazines far outnumbered those showing up who want to dump the ban at today’s remote hearing on the measure at Colorado Mesa University (CMU).

Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee members in Denver heard remote testimony from western slope residents on SB 175 (pdf) via a video hookup in the West Ballroom at CMU. If enacted, the measure would repeal a law currently in place that prohibits possession of large capacity ammunition magazines. The legislature enacted the current magazine ban after the Aurora Theater massacre on July 20, 2012.

The crowd showing up to testify on today’s bill wasn’t big, but was remarkable for the fact that gun safety advocates far outnumbered those showing up to support legalizing large capacity ammo magazines. Exactly the opposite had been expected.

ALL OPPOSED? - Nine western slope residents (including the photographer) showed up to oppose bringing back large capacity gun magazines in Colorado at today's hearing on SB 175

Nine western slope residents (including the photographer and another not yet seated) showed up to oppose bringing back large capacity gun magazines in Colorado at today’s hearing on SB 175

Mesa County Commissioner John Justman was one of only two people who supported bringing back large capacity ammo magazines, even though twenty four people had registered to testify for the bill. Nine people showed up to testify in favor of keeping the current ban in place.

G.J.’s North Desert Trashed by Off-Road Vehicles, Shooting, Dumping

Off-roaders revel in tearing up the North Desert area after rain and snow, creating rutted mud pits for fun.

Off-roaders revel in tearing up the North Desert area after rain and snow, creating rutted mud pits for fun.

If you want tourists, friends and family to see the best our area has to offer, whatever you do, don’t take them up 27 1/4 Road into the desert north of H Road. While the panoramas from the north desert area are spectacular, this formerly stark and beautiful range of mancos shale hills running along the base of Grand Junction’s iconic Bookcliffs is now defaced from virtually end to end with trash dumps, mud ruts, shotgun shells and makeshift religious memorials to people who have died out there in accidents.

What used to be a marvelous place for a long, peaceful walk with your dog, is now so disappointing it tries the soul.

An airplane flies over areas on BLM land where shooting is permitted, right underneath the takeoff/landing patterns for G.J. Regional Airport

An airplane flies over BLM land where shooting is permitted underneath the takeoff/landing patterns for G.J. Regional Airport

Since the shooting range opened several miles out on 27 1/4 Road, and since the North Desert started being included on OHV (off-highway vehicle) maps, the area has turned ugly. It’s also a more dangerous place for peaceful users, like walkers, bikers and horseback riders.

Recipe for Disaster: Colorado Riverfront Trail Users Unprotected from Gunfire

The morning sun glistens on the Colorado River on the Monument View section, where hunters are allowed to shoot at birds in the very same vicinity where paths beckon people to run, walk and bike by to the river.

The morning sun glistens on the Colorado River on the Monument View section, where hunters are allowed to shoot in the same vicinity where people run, walk and bike by the river.

The Colorado Riverfront Trail is a huge asset to Mesa County citizens’ quality of life. It beckons residents and tourist to run, walk and bike amid the beautiful scenery alongside the river.

But frequently gunfire occurs around parts of the paths located outside City limits. Many times the sound of loud gunfire next to the path has reduced my dog to a quivering, drooling mass of fear. He digs in his toenails, shakes uncontrollably, refuses to walk any more and has to be lifted or dragged away from the area. The gunfire turns an otherwise pleasant, enjoyable time on the path into a nightmare for us and our dog, and cuts short the time we usually reserve for our morning walk. We have to drag the dog back to the car, leave the area and find somewhere else to walk where he — and we — don’t feel threatened.

So many of our riverfront walks have been ruined this way, I start to wonder why we ever go back. I have quietly wondered, too, if my dog is justified in being so frightened, and whether I should be a bit more concerned for my own safety.

Based on what I found out, I absolutely should.

On the Monument View section of trail, about 1/2 mile east of the Walker Wildlife parking area, there are two small, ominous signs — one facing in either direction — that say “Active Hunting Area. Please stay on trail and respect hunter’s rights.” But what, exactly, does this mean to people using the trail? The signs don’t say what to do if gunfire comes your way. They give no assurance you will not be hit by errant gunfire while on the trail. It doesn’t say where the hunters are or in what direction they shoot. It doesn’t give the dates of hunting seasons or point to protective barriers or cover.

Sheriff Candidate Mike Harlow: The Ugliest Face of Mesa County

Mesa County Sheriff write-in candidate Mike Harlow

Mesa County Sheriff write-in candidate Mike Harlow

It’s no surprise that Mesa County’s tea party faction endorsed custom holster-maker and write-in candidate Mike Harlow for sheriff.

What is a surprise, though, and a huge embarrassment for Mesa County citizens, is that Harlow got the endorsement of anyone at all.

Harlow’s smugness and extreme hate-filled views reveal one thing: he is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

If his writings are any indication, contempt and hostility ooze from Harlow’s every pore.

Grand Junction Gun Club Urges Action End to Mass Shootings

A portion of the postcards delivered to Congressman Scott Tipton by members of the Grand Junction Gun Club on Friday, July 11.

A portion of the postcards delivered to Congressman Scott Tipton on Friday, July 11, by members of the Grand Junction Gun Club .

A new citizens’ group in Grand Junction is saying “no more” to gun violence. The group came together to advocate action be taken to reduce the growing number of mass gun slaughters occurring in the U.S.

On Friday, July 11, 2014 the Grand Junction Gun Club presented Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) with 1,500 postcards from constituents in his district saying “Not One More” person should be killed by gun violence. 150 of the postcards were from residents of Grand Junction. The postcards were collected by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety, two national groups working to overcome the inaction by Congress on the issue of  growing gun violence.

The words were inspired by Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher Martinez, was one of the six people killed in the May 23 gun massacre in Santa Barbara, California. In a statement to the media after his son’s death, Mr. Martinez said,

“When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say ‘Stop this madness!’ Too many people have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘NOT ONE MORE!'”

His words inspired a national movement to urge legislators to enact measures to reduce the number of guns getting into the hands of unstable and violent people. The Grand Junction Gun Club is standing in support of the survivors, families and communities throughout the U.S. that have been affected by mass shootings.

The perpetrator of the Santa Barbara shootings, Elliot Rodger, sought retribution against women for rejecting him and to punish young men whom he believed lived a better life than he did. Rodger visited a shooting range to train himself in shooting handguns and owned a Glock 34 pistol. When he finished his gun rampage, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

The Crucial History Lesson Behind CO Ballot Initiative #75: the “Community Rights Amendment”

SummitvilleSuperfund

Colorado citizens learned their lesson from the Summitville Mine Disaster of 1992-93, but the state courts and legislature did not, and have repeatedly invalidated local laws that communities enact to protect their citizens from hazardous business pursuits.

Colorado citizens are now gathering signatures to get Ballot Initiative #75, a groundbreaking constitutional amendment, onto the state wide ballot in November.

Business interests have called Initiative #75, also known as the “Right to Local Self-Government” or the “Community Rights Amendment,” an “anti-fracking” initiative, but the measure confers more protection on Colorado citizens than just an anti-fracking initiative, and there are some very solid recent history lessons that are driving Colorado citizens to push for this initiative.

One of them is the Summitville Mine Disaster of 1992-1993.

The Summitville Mine, operated by the Summitville Consolidated Mining Corporation, Inc. (SCMCI), was an open-pit gold and silver mine located in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, about 40 miles west of Alamosa.  SCMCI used a cyanide heap leaching technique to extract gold and silver. The process involved excavating ore from the mountain, then crushing it and placing it onto a 1,235 acre open leach pad lined with clay and synthetic material. The company then poured a sodium cyanide solution over the crushed ore to leach out gold and silver. The contaminated water was collected and held in leach ponds on the mine property.

Sodium cyanide is highly toxic, and among the most rapidly-acting of all poisons.

Midwife Sounds Alert Over Spike in Stillbirths in Heavily-Drilled Vernal, Utah

Drilling density in the Uintah Basin, where Vernal is located

Drilling density in the Uintah Basin, where Vernal is located

A midwife in Vernal, Utah, has raised a red flag about a spike in the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the small town in 2013. The statistic has emerged alongside explosive growth in drilling and fracking in the area. Energy companies have flocked to Vernal in the last few years to develop the massive oil and gas fields that underlie Uintah County.

The midwife, Donna Young,  who has worked in the Vernal area for 19 years, reported delivering the first stillborn baby she’s seen in all her years of practice in May, 2013. Doctors could not determine any reason for the baby’s death.

While visiting the local cemetery where the parents of that baby had buried their dead child, Young noticed other fresh graves of babies who were stillborn or died shortly after birth.

Young started researching local sources of data on stillbirths and neonatal deaths, like obituaries and mortuary records, and found a large spike in the number of infant deaths occurring in Vernal in recent years. She found 11 other incidents in 2013 where Vernal mothers had given birth to stillborn babies, or whose babies died within a few days of being born.

Vernal’s full-time population is only about 9,800.

The rate of neonatal deaths in Vernal has climbed from about equivalent to the national average in 2010, to six times the national average in 2013.

Along with the surge in oil and gas drilling in the Vernal area over the last few years, the winter time air in the Uintah basin, where Vernal sits, has become dense with industrial smog generated by drilling rigs, pipelines, wells and increased traffic.

“DrillingAhead.com” Gives Inside Look at Problems, Accidents and Worker Behavior in Oil and Gas Field

DrillingAhead.com is a worldwide networking website for employees of the oil and gas field. Rotating news stories on the the site’s front page have headlines like “Fingertip Amputation Hangs Over Chesapeak Energy,” “2 Dead, 9 Injured After Oilfield Explosion Near Orla, Texas,” and “Texas Newspaper Investigation Questions Oilfield Safety; Says 663 Killed in 6 Years.” The latter story discusses the U.S. federal government’s failure to enforce safety standards on drilling rigs.

DrillingAhead.com also lets oil and gas field workers upload videos of what they see  at their worksites. So far workers have uploaded almost 16,000 videos onto the site, with many showing accidents and workers screwing around. One video titled “Directional Drilling Nightmare” shows a drill bit gone awry and surfacing in a nearby field, spewing mud and fluid around the area. Others show workers sleeping on the job, and another shows a gas plant exploding in fire at an unnamed location in Colorado. Another truly incredible video shows drilling rig workers engaging in a pipe-licking contest (video at left), where two men actually try to outdo each other for the length of time they can hold their tongues against an active, circulating vertical section of pipe.

DrillingAhead.com also links to a fascinating Flickr site featuring still photos of “Oilfield Accidents.” Photos show frightened workers clinging desperately to the railing of a severely listing offshore rig, an offshore rig sinking into the water, a truck impaled by oilfield equipment, rigs that have collapsed or caught fire (or both), and rigs completely encased in ice.

DrillingAhead.com gives a detailed inside look at the actual operation of drilling rigs around the world as seen by the workers themselves, and in so doing does plenty to undermine confidence — if there ever was any — in how drilling operations are carried out worldwide.

In fact, DrillingAhead.com provides ample justification to worry mightily about the safety and integrity of oil and gas drilling operations everywhere.