Preliminary Site Characterization Report, Rulsion Site, Colorado [report]

1996 unpublished
This report is a summary of environmental information gathered during a review of the documents pertaining to Project Rulison and interviews with personnel who worked on the project. Project Rulison was part of Operation Plowshare (a program designed to explore peaceful uses for nuclear devices). The project consisted of detonating a 43-kiloton nuclear device on September 10, 1969, in western Colorado to stimulate natural gas production. Following the detonation, a reentry well was drilled and
more » ... everal gas production tests were conducted. The reentry well was shut-in after the last gas production test and was held in standby condition until the general cleanup was undertaken in 1972. A final cleanup was conducted after the emplacement and testing wells were plugged in 1976. However, some surface radiologic contamination resulted from decontamination of the drilling equipment and fallout from the gas flaring during drilling operations. With the exception of the drilling effluent pond, all surface contamination at the Rulison Site was removed during the cleanup operations. All mudpits and other excavations were backfilled, and both upper and lower drilling pads were leveled and dressed. This report provides information regarding known or suspected areas of contamination, previous cleanup activities, analytical results, a review of the regulatory status, the site's physical environment, and future recommendations for Project Rulison. Based on this research, several potential areas of contamination have been identified. These include the drilling effluent pond and mudpits used during drilling operations. In addition, contamination could migrate in the gas horizon. The drilling effluent pond at the Rulison Site was used to store nonradioactive drilling mud during the drilling of the emplacement hole for the nuclear device. In 1994 and 1995, three pondsediment sampling events were conducted to evaluate the nature of this residual drilling fluid. The sampling indicated the presence of up to seven percent, by weight, of diesel fuel and the presence of chromium. The diesel fuel contained total petroleum hydrocarbon compounds in addition to benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. Prior to the detonation of the nuclear device, the sumps remaining from drilling the emplacement hole (with the exception of the drilling effluent pond previously mentioned) were cleaned and filled with earth. Two natural gas production wells are located within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of the Rulison Site. Both wells are currently shut-in because current (1995) low gas prices make production uneconomical. If contamination enters the gas horizons, it should appear in the water or gas from
doi:10.2172/303921 fatcat:ehw4q4rtyrch7nd3cc27lyv2b4