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Frustrations Grow Over Drilling in Gardendale

Resident worries as stake goes up near home
GARDENDALE -- From population growth to hundreds of new businesses, we've been seeing signs of how the oil boom is having a huge impact on our economy. Still, residents in certain areas of the Basin are upset about all the drilling that's going on around us. Gardendale is, without a doubt, one of those places.

Earlier this year, Big 2 had an exclusive with Berry Oil who said things were improving. From a centralized gathering facility to donating half a dozen H2S monitors to the volunteer fire department, they said they were taking pro-active measures to work with residents, landowners, and everyone that's being impacted by drilling operations in Gardendale. Still, not everyone is pleased with the way things are going.

"Every new well brings increased truck traffic and increased danger to the community," said Dan Boggs, president of the Gardendale Accountibility Project.
   
His organization even put up a memorial for everyone that's being impacted. Hector Rodriguez is one of those people.

"They came and staked a well directly behind me that's 135 feet from my house," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez also said he had plans to build his dream home. There's now a stake right where it would have gone up.  "They told me I could not build there," he said, "That I was going to have to move my dog pins and my water well I have here."
   
Rodriguez added that the only thing that won't be torn down if Berry moves forward with drilling is his home.  But his main concern is the safety of his family. "Are they going to give my family...my 11 year old son. Are they going to give him a hard hat? Are they going to H2S train him? Are they going to give him steel-toe boots to wear when he walk outside?"
   
Even though Rodriguez works in the oilfield for a living, he said what they're doing simply isn't right. "I'm not anti-drilling. As a matter of fact, I'm for it. It helps our economy," he said. "They're just doing it too close to where we live."
   
And if drilling plans moves forward, Rodriguez said not only will he lose plans to build his dream home, he'll lose his current home as well. "If they do drill this well here, I'm moving. I'm going to have to just cut my losses and move."

After reaching out to Berry, they did send us a statement saying, "There are no definitive plans to drill at that location. As we have indicated previously, Berry Oil is drilling on 40-acre spacing and staking potential locations for wells on 20-acre spacing in the Gardendale area. Stakes such as the one on Mr. Rodriguez's property might not be drilled and the locations are subject to change, pending the results of pilot testing to determine the feasibility of those locations. Currently, Berry Oil has only three of the 12 rigs in operation in the Gardendale area. While we recognize that some individual surface owners may be unhappy with a specific staking location, we try to work with all of the surface owners to find the location that works for all concerned."

For more on both sides of this ongoing story, visit http://commongroundgardendale.com and http://GARDAP.org

For more energy news, follow Mycah Glover on Facebook and Twitter.
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