WINDSOR, Colo. (CBS4) – Some residents in a Windsor neighborhood say their homes and their health could be at risk if an oil company moves forward with its plans.

Ranchers Exploration Partners wants to tap oil reserves deep in the ground under homes in the Ridge West subdivision through a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Many say benzene is an ingredient in fracking. The industry claims it’s safe but environmental groups say the drilling can contaminate water.

“Property values are important, but if you get sick or get cancer from benzine or something like that, it’s not going to make any difference what your property is worth,” resident Gene Fatton told CBS4.

On Monday night homeowners voiced their concerns at a meeting with the company, which plans to install its oil wells close to some homes.

Ranchers Exploration Partners spokesman Mike Ward told meeting-goers that he recognizes it is “a sensitive topic for many of you.”

He provided some details about the overall plan but he said he was unable to answer many of the technical questions about fracking and the Ranchers Exploration drilling process.

One of the issues discussed at the meeting was the leases Ranchers Exploration sent to homeowners asking for the right to drill on their property.

“Nowhere in this lease is there any assurance or guarantee that they will in any way, shape or form protect our land,” one of the meeting-goers said.

Some residents have already signed leases and work has apparently already started on at least one site.

Nikki Stansfield has been spreading the word in the neighborhood about the potential problems associated with the drilling plan. She said the company will go forward with their drilling plans regardless of whether homeowners sign the leases.

“There is nothing you can do,” Stansfield said. “It is almost a form of eminent domain.”

Stansfield blames the issue on state laws which she says are too lenient.

“All I can do is do what the state of Colorado allows me to do: conform to the rules and regulations and guidelines,” Ward told people at the meeting.

Ward didn’t return CBS4’s calls asking for an interview.

Earler this month at a Colorado Oil and Gas Association meeting Gov. John Hickenlooper told industry leaders to expect new rules to come out requiring companies to disclose exactly what’s in the fracking fluids they are using. The rules are expected to be in place by the end of the year.

RELATED STORY: DeGette Pushes For More Regulation Of Hydraulic Fracturing

RELATED BLOG ENTRY: Hickenlooper’s Fracking Balancing Act


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