The owner of a Colorado big-game hunting ranch has sued an oil and gas company over a pipeline leak that the suit says contaminated the property and killed its planned $5 million sale.
Lawyers for Bishop Ranch LLC filed the suit on July 18 against Encana in Rio Blanco County, where the ranch is located, The Daily Sentinel reported Monday.
The suit says condensate and/or produced water “impacted and contaminated the springs, surface water, ground water, vegetation, land, soil and sediment ... onto the Bishop Ranch by way of a massive release of hazardous waste.”
It says the ranch was in the final stages of negotiations to be sold for $5 million and the leak kept the sale from being completed.
The suit is asking for a jury trial and actual and compensatory damages of $5 million.
Encana spokesman Doug Hock said the company won’t comment on the suit. The company is working on remediation and will continue to manage the issue, he said.
The leak was discovered in June 2016 and involved a pipeline operated by Encana subsidiary Hunter Ridge Energy Services LLC.
Oil and gas commission staff have cited Hunter Ridge for alleged violations including failing to ensure that pipes are in good mechanical condition and regularly inspected, and failing to take reasonable measures to prevent leaks and corrosion.
Hunter Ridge has told the state the leak is believed to have resulted from isolated pitting from bacteria in a pipeline that was in generally good condition.
The lawsuit accuses Encana of fostering a corporate cover-up mentality encouraged by confidential private settlements in other cases of environmental damage from its operations.
It says Encana’s financial losses and workforce reductions in recent years resulted in a cutback in personnel knowledgeable about safety and left local operations largely unmonitored for safety and security.