12/01/2011 09:45 am ET | Updated Dec 01, 2011

Colo. Supreme Court Considers Drilling Near Project Rulison Nuclear Site By Encana Oil & Gas

The Colorado Supreme Court is considering whether or not residents have the right to demand a hearing on a proposal to drill for natural gas near a nuclear blast site in western Colorado, the Assocaited Press reports.

According to KJCT, in 1969 the government used a nuclear device to stimulate natural-gas production in the area that became known as Project Rulison. The state has given EnCana Oil and Gas permission to drill within three miles of the blast site and that has residents of nearby Parachute and Battlement Mesa concerned.

The court heard from lawyers from the state and the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance (GVCA), a Garfield County citizens' environmental group that opposes the drilling, 9News reports. In 2003, the state said that only drillers, local governments and surface-property owners could hold such hearings, but the GVCA argues that this conflicts with the state's overall oil and gas regulations since the 2007 expansion of the rules to require more attention on drilling's impact to public health and the larger environment, according to The Denver Post.

According to the GVCA website, Project Rulison is an example where the surface owners do not have legal "standing" to articulate their concerns about drilling near the site. "Two families that live near the blast site, and are very concerned withd rilling near the original detonation zone, are not allowed to ask for a hydrologic study -- let alone cessation of activities near a nuclear blast site," the website states.

The oil and gas commission says that years of sampling and monitoring by the Environmental Protection Agency show there's been no radiation above what Colorado residents are already exposed to in nature, according to 7News.