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Fracking Site : Water Rules Violation, Nageezi, New Mexico

WPX Energy and Western Refining are expanding fracking leases near Chaco Canyon and show low regard for the safety of community water sources. The video shows a fracking site with three operating wells using unlined wastewater pits. New Mexico state requires all sites to be in compliance of water rules which requires the use of lined pits to limit surface and ground water contamination.



While the River Healers were in New Mexico we droned multiple sites in the Greater Chaco Area impacted by fracking explosions, fires, spills, and methane. This is one of six fracking sites in the Greater Chaco Area brought to our attention by Navajo Nation members. The region is known to the Diné (Navajo) as Dinétah, the land of their ancestors. It contains sacred sites and is home of the Bisti Badlands and Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a World Heritage Site.

This particular site caught fire on June 11th, 2016 and was allowed to burn until July 14th. The fracking fire and contaminates spread to areas north and south of the fracking pad, burning Juniper trees within 200 feet of residential buildings. This fire is not the only documented case in the Greater Chaco Area where communities were disrupted and evacuated in the middle of the night. While community members remain concerned about their health, WPX reported that the incident was not an emergency and that no damage was caused to groundwater.

PROTECT GREATER CHACO #DoodaFracking #DontFrackChaco


While the River Healers were in New Mexico we droned multiple sites in the Greater Chaco Area impacted by fracking explosions, fires, spills, and methane. This is one of six fracking sites in the Greater Chaco Area brought to our attention by Navajo Nation members. The region is known to the Diné (Navajo) as Dinétah, the land of their ancestors. It contains sacred sites and is home of the Bisti Badlands and Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a World Heritage Site.



Drone surveys of this particular site show Cyclone 32, a 1500 Horsepower 755 ton drill rig manufactured in Wyoming. The drill rig is transported through Greater Chaco communities on small dusty single lane dirt roads used by the community members and school buses. The drilling is heard and seen moving from pad to pad. The rig is establishing multiple drill heads on pockets of land tucked along the Kimbeto Wash, a tributary to the Chaco River and sacred source of water security for members of the Greater Chaco Area in Nageezi, New Mexico.



Drone surveys show Lybrook Elementary School only 1600ft from a WPX Energy fracking site. The crude oil tanks of the site can be seen from the classroom windows of the school. The elementary school was moved to this location in 2006 because it was right across the highway from a large and expanding natural gas plant and had to relocate elementary students to a safe location.

Although the WPX Energy site is established on federal land, this area of Counselor, New Mexico is referred to as 'The Checkerboard' because of the quadrants of federal land that break up tribal land. The 5 well heads are highlighted to show that these pockets of federal land are being fracked with a high concentration of fracking wells. By drilling multiple wells in one pad location fracking companies are able to quickly drain the plays of crude oil under the the Greater Chaco Area and avoid signing contracts with the native property owners that live and attend school in the area they are fracking.

Currently WPX has rights to lease about 100,000 acres of federal, state and Navajo allottee lands in the San Juan Basin and plan to continue these abusive and threatening methods of fracking.



Drone surveys show crude oil being fracked within 840 ft of an indigenous community is Sandoval County, NM (Greater Chaco). The fracking site is located in the path of the community water supply, which had to be routed around the wellhead and crude tanks. The underground water line remains only 110 ft from active fracking activity.

Particular communities in Greater Chaco are dependent upon pastoral industry and the health of their livestock. Horses owned by the indigenous community are seen grazing on open and unprotected fracking pads. Many of these fracking pads have recorded spills of either fracking fluid, wastewater, or crude oil and pose health risks to the livestock grazing on potentially contaminated grasses and wastewater.

A Western Refining (WPX) crude truck can be seen driving down the community road. These dirt roads were designed to support local community traffic and school buses but are now heavily used by the fracking industry. 90,000-lb gross weight oilfield trucks haul the volatile crude oil through pastoral lands, endangering livestock and community members. Fracking companies continue to level dirt roads to accommodate the weight of their crude trucks. The practice cuts roads deep into the landscape. Roads in Greater Chaco now resemble trenches and make travel dangerous, block scenic views of ancestral land, and hinder the ability to monitor livestock and fracking development.



Drone surveys show 3 well heads, crude tanks, and compressors north of Hwy 550 in Nageezi, NM. The location is of importance because it shows how flaring is used to burn off methane caused by fracking and the transportation processes of crude oil. The River Healers droned this site when workers were not present and the flare tower was turned off for safety concerns, but the flame can usually be seen all the way from Hwy 550 tucked into the distinct hills of the Bisti Badlands. Such methane hotspots are of concern because methane causes severe health risks for individuals living near crude oil facilities. NASA has identified two large methane gas clouds in new Mexico. The methane gas is concentrated above fracking occurring in the San Juan Basin and Permian Basin and disproportionately affects the air quality of Greater Chaco, Four Corners Region, Farmington, and South East region of New Mexico.


Two unlined wastewater pits can be seen on the edge of the fracking pad near the well heads and compressors. Erosion caused by water drainage can be seen leading from the well heads and compressor areas directly to the wastewater pits. Drainages can also be seen coming directly out of the waste water pits and going into the Upper Kimbetto Wash, a tributary of the Chaco River. It is illegal for fracking companies to keep fracking wastewater in unlined pits in the state of New Mexico. The River Healers reported this possible water violation to the EMNRD Oil Conservation Division (a state regulatory body for the fracking industry). The Oil Conservation Division has only eleven full time employees that are in charge of overseeing 20,000 fracking sites scattered throughout New Mexico. EMNRD replied that WPX Energy maintains that the wastewater is caused by stormwater runoff and contains no fracking contaminates. This is the first time we have heard of the fracking industry creating stormwater runoff pits and find the practice to be unusual. Further skepticism that these runoff pits are not contaminated comes from research about the site. In June of 2016, WPX Energy reported a spill of 600 gallons of crude oil at this site because of a fire. WPX maintains that no groundwater was impacted and marked the incident as not an emergency.


Skepticism of EMNRD’s ability to regulate the fracking industry not only comes from being short staffed. Ken McQueen, Cabinet Secretary of EMNRD formerly served as Vice President of WPX Energy. Governor Susana Martinez appointment of McQueen severely compromises the state's ability to impartially oversee WPX Energy and regulate the fracking industry. New Mexico needs a Cabinet Secretary that is not tied to the interests and history of the company that it is supposed to regulate. Ken McQueen managed WPX Energy’s assets in the Four Corners area of New Mexico, Colorado, and in addition, part of Wyoming. Governor Martinez needs to clean up the EMNRD, get rid of cabinet members that have shown they are more interested in protecting the assets of WPX than the health of New Mexicans. Until this happens the EMNRD will remain an unreliable regulatory body.


We need oversight on the systematically abusive fracking industry. Protect Chaco! Dooda Fracking!



The  Water Terrorism Task Force (WTTF) is listing water terrorists operating in the State of New Mexico.


The WTTF is a partnership between the River Healers, water protectors, individuals, and organizations charged with taking action against water terrorism, which includes the investigation of corporate water exploitation, intimidation tactics, and propaganda that threatens community water sources.

Water terrorism is a form of domestic violence experienced widely and differently across New Mexico communities. In order for the WTTF to build a comprehensive list of individuals threatening water security please submit a person (CEO, board member, elected official, appointed official, lawyer) you would like to see on the list of New Mexico Water Terrorists. Anonymous submissions can be made through our website.


Water is a commons - No one holds the right to destroy

River Healers


Water is a commons-

It cannot be bound and has no boundaries. It can not be owned as a private property and sold as commodity.


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