Sunday, June 30, 2013

Video Introduction to Dangers and Health Effects of Fracking

This half hour video presentation tells the story of a Texas couple whose property is surrounded by over 62 gas wells within a 2 mile radius. Is it any wonder these people are suffering health effects from such concentration of air pollutants?

Click on the title of the video: Fracking - Dangerous Contamination

If you want to get a real idea of the devastation caused by gas exploration, take a drive along Weld County Rd 49 from Kersey to Hudson! We always take that road for a speedy trip to DIA via E-470.

This morning, still dark, we could see some drill rigs in the distance, lit up by extremely bright, Klieg lights. In some areas along the way, likely because of the cool temperatures, we could catch whiffs of petroleum coming into the car. Some of the gas wells, with tanks, and flares, sit extremely close to homes! What must it be like to live there?

Bad as it is to have drilling going on, the worst is yet to
come in the form of  fumes that are constantly emitted once
 the well is in production. No landscaping can hide that!

The tall flare and the three black  'chimneys' of the
separators emit harmful VOCs and contribute to rising ozone
levels in a county that already exceeds the threshold for it!

 Look at this 'battery' of 28 oil storage tanks. Greeley- Evans
 residents near Walmart will get a similar view with 32 tanks!

Below is the proposed site for the 67 gas wells. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission issued permits for them on May, 31st, but Mineral Resources, Inc., the mining company that will drill the wells, still needs to get permission from the Greeley Planning Commission. Since health or environmental concerns are not taken into consideration the project will most certainly get the green light....unless it is massively protested! 

Zoom in here. "A" shows the location where the drill rig will be put up behind Walmart and Frontier Academy (grades K-6). Note the field on left that already has eight gas wells and tanks. On the south of 32nd street are several apartment buildings.

Here you see the schematic of where the 32 oil storage tanks (red dots), and 30 gas separators (yellow stripes) will be placed. Note the proximity of Frontier's playground in the upper left corner, a mere tenth of a mile away from any VOCs escaping from the separators. 

A study by the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado showed that,
"residents living less than 1/2 mile from wells are at greater risk for health effects from natural gas development (NGD) than are residents living farther than one half mile away." 

See Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tribune Reporter Silent on Ozone Dangers

The Forum on the Health Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing drew such a large crowd that many had to stand in the entryway of the Universalist Church. All speakers shared interesting, and important information, and guess what? Even Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, and State Rep. Dave Young were there! According to the Tribune article, so was ex mayor Tom Selders. But, what the reporter did not mention was that some 'concerned' representatives from two of Mineral Resources' competitors were there too.

A young man from Nobel Energy stood in back and spoke up, saying that many people working in the Oil and Gas industry are too afraid to come to meetings where opponents of  fracking gather. He said he'd be outside to answer any questions the audience had. Why outside? Well, maybe because it was a forum, not a debate, even though that is what the Tribune implied it was with its headline, 'Health Issues Heavily Debated' for their print version! But, maybe he did not want to bear the brunt of the audience's frustration and cynicism since the presentation was being video recorded.

At the end of the meeting, or even before, I'm not sure, a number of people did indeed swarm around him. He told them that his company, and also Anadarko, the company that the other two young men worked for, are doing a lot to make gas production safer and more environmentally sound. He said it is the small operators such as our local Mineral Resources that give them, "the big boys", a bad name. But, he quipped, we need not worry as "Nobel Energy will soon buy them out". The implication being that residents then really will have no more worries about the drilling and fracking process, since 'the big boys' do their best to make it safe.

He admitted to the dangers involved in the process, but laughed when I questioned him about the poisonous fracking fluids. He believes that only harmless ingredients are used, but a nurse who stood listening asked him why then, does the Oil & Gas Industry put a gag order on health professionals to prevent them from disclosing chemicals they encounter when treating workers who have been contaminated.

Hearing this, I was immediately reminded of the story years ago of a nurse, in Durango who became seriously ill when she treated a man in the ER who had strange smelling clothes which she put in plastic bags. That example serves as a good illustration of serious dangers involved, and how it is ignored by the media

Although it was good to have the Greeley Tribune cover the event, the reporter showed her bias by editorializing when she wrote, "However, the city is prohibited from injuring anyone else’s water rights downstream in favor of oil and gas. While he [Phil Doe] said all the water is used and destroyed, in fact, there are several recycling efforts in the drilling fields of Weld to recycle and reuse water used for hydraulic fracturing." Had I been her editor I would have struck that bit for lack of substantiation.

She also wrote, "..Others left early. They raised concerns about what they said were scare tactics and misinformation at the meeting."  Really? I wonder who left, other than perhaps Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, who was quoted as stating, “If I was a resident hearing this for the first time, I’d leave here confused and a little scared,..I’m all for having equitable discussion that equally represent the issues, but I don’t think it’s in the public interest to throw scare tactics at people who just want the facts.” Funny, it was nothing but factual information that was presented.

The reporter could have, should have asked him what he perceives to be scare tactics or misinformation. There was none. Anyone with a functioning brain can see that drilling near homes, and the pollution that comes with it, on such a grande scale, and in such concentration does not spell "S A F E" or
 "G O O D"! Could it have been this ozone slide? Why did the reporter stay mum about this and many other hazards mentioned?

To me ozone was the worst scare of all! You cannot undo ozone damage to your lungs. I knew that already, thanks to Dr. Theo Colborn's video, but Dr. Clark's slide, showing there's a higher incidence of heart attacks in middle-aged adults without heart disease after only 1-2 days of ozone exposure, drives that home even more!

See the Tribune's article: Health concerns highlight Greeley fracking meeting.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

Our Weld County Commissioners, featured in an ad in our city's 'Greeley Unexpected' brochure, with a 74 million dollar check for '2012 Ad Valorem Taxes', received from one of many Oil and Gas companies drilling in our county.

Do they not care, or care to know, what the land looks like after putting in thousands of wells?
This is a bird's eye 'Google Map' view of farm land east of Gill.

It looks a lot like the desecration of our public lands

Greeley seems like an oasis among the encroachment of gas wells, but no longer is. 

We already have over 425 wells within city limits, but 1000 more are planned! This gas condensation tank, painted a 'nice' sand color to make it blend into its surroundings, "to make it more visually appealing" as a Tribune reporter wrote, may look harmless but it emits so-called VOCs 24/7 which can negatively affect the health of those living near it. 

So, here's to an unhealthy future to 'each and everyone of us'! Cheers!

Unless, of course,......we demand a stop to it!!

Contact Air Weld and Water, an information clearinghouse, advocate for health and safety, and a community organizing tool for citizens of Weld County, Colorado in relation to oil and gas development in the county.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Greeley Gas Well Sites

These are producing, and planned gas well sites of Mineral Resources, Inc., our 'locally, privately held oil and natural gas producer'. Other companies have drill sites too. For a closer look, click on this link. Then, when you click on a red icon you can read how many wells are, or will be, there.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Aims Drill Site

Aims leases to Synergy Resources; receives $13,000 a month 

"It's another revenue source that will help keep us solvent,.. the kind of outside-the-box thinking that helps provide a safety net in the face of dramatic decreases in college funding from the state. " said Aims Community College president Marsi Liddell. ..The University of Northern Colorado and Weld County School District 6 in Greeley also have inked deals with energy companies." SeeWeld County schools use oil, gas leases to tap into revenue streams - The Denver Post 

The drill rig at Aims Community College, located at the intersection of College Drive and Aims Blvd.

What was once arable land like this,

unfortunately changed into this. Zoom in to the green arrow to see the change!

These are the nine storage tanks for crude oil. They each hold 300 barrels, which is the equivalent of 12,600 gallons.

The crude oil is collected and transported off site by truck

Resembling a slim pot belly stove this is one of four flares that burns off excess gas 24/7.

You cannot see with the naked eye, that these flares emit noxious fumes and VOCs,

 but you can when you video record with zoom lens. Watch the video clip below. 

View Larger Map

Saturday, June 15, 2013

67 Gas Wells Planned Near Frontier School and Walmart

If you have ever seen a tank 'battery'; a well site with several oil, or gas condensation tanks; you would gasp at the idea of having 67 within city limits, close to homes with children! From this great vantage point on 29th street you can get a taste of what half that number of wells, 34 to be exact, looks like!

The multi well site near U.S. 85 and U.S. 34.

Some of the 34 gas separators. Each has a pipe that emits
VOC's; Volatile Organic Chemical Compounds. See here.

Separators, and a flare which burns 'excess' gas.

The site behind Walmart will have 4 times as many tanks!

Gas separators releasing VOCs, creating harmful ozone.

Flare and gas separators.

The following is excerpted from the Greeley Tribune's article,

Residents fight two multi well site proposals in city. 

My comments are in orange.

Logan Richardson, president of Mineral Resources, said the company’s permit applications with the city will only be for half that number of wells.

That is not exactly reassuring! When Mineral Resources discussed the proposed drill site in Fox Run with the residents and their attorney, the plan was for five wells instead of the proposed 16 to 22. Imagine the surprise when at the City Council public hearing, Logan Richardson said the plan was for 16 wells!
Thanks to the photos above, you can see what a site with 34 wells will look like!

 Brad Mueller, Greeley’s director of community development, said both sites will go through the city’s Use by Special Review permitting process. Once a company gets approval from the COGCC [Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission], Greeley officials review the site and recommend to the planning commission whether to approve the permit.

That is not reassuring either! In the Fox Run case the Planning Commission voted in favor of drilling close to homes and schools! Where is the common sense in that? Residents should be able to trust that the Oil and Gas industry can not move onto the open lot across the street! Yet, that is what our city council allows to happen. Clearly, neither they nor the Planning Commission follow the criteria laid out for the evaluation!
"2. The location, size, design and operating characteristics of the proposed use shall be compatible with the existing and future land uses within the general area in which the proposed use is to be located and will not create significant noise, traffic or other conditions or situations that may be objectionable or detrimental to other permitted uses in the vicinity. 
Reasonable conditions may be placed on uses by special review to protect the public health, safety and welfare by mitigating impacts to achieve compatibility and complementary design,  especially where a non-residential use is located adjacent to a residential use;"

Drilling inside city limits is so totally illogical and unexpected, it should be the main feature of the city's 'Greeley Unexpected' image campaign! And, what to make of the city's 2020 Comprehensive Plan that
"was to be a guide to direct public and private growth and development decisions through the year 2020...Assuring the development of a safe and pleasant community; improving the visual appeal of the community;..[to] Disallow high impact agricultural and heavy industrial land uses that generate obnoxious influences, such as noise, fumes, or hazards."
Mueller said the city can also require neighborhood meetings before the hearing goes before the planning commission, which will likely happen in this case. Still, Weld Air and Water, a group of about 100 residents that has vocalized concerns over the proposed projects, say the well pads are too close to schools and homes. The south Greeley project is less than 1,000 feet from Frontier Academy Elementary School [K-3 grades], and the downtown project less than 500 feet from the nearest home, they say.

Therese Gilbert... of Weld Air and Water who lives in Greeley, said she is particularly concerned by ground-level ozone and the portion of pollution here caused by oil and gas activity. Gordon Pierce, technical services program manager for the Air Pollution Control Division, said in an email that the emissions related to oil and gas development comprise at least 55 percent of the total for the northern Colorado area.

Following a highly contentious appeal of another well site by Mineral Resources near the west Greeley neighborhood of Fox Run, Gilbert said she feels city officials won’t change their attitude about drilling in city limits. That’s why she said it’s important to her that the state implements more stringent emissions rules. Gilbert said she and members of Weld Air and Water understand the importance of oil and gas to Greeley’s and Weld County’s economy. “We get it,” she said. “But you cannot put a price on public health.”

Friday, June 14, 2013

Who decides to drill for gas and oil inside our town?

That's the question I asked Logan Richardson, Vice President of Mineral Resources. He answered:
"We have experiences where mineral owners have solicited our company and others to develop projects, other instances where cities and towns have solicited offers and we have been the initiator of new projects. The question of who spurs new development depends on the site and circumstance." 
Mineral Resources has initiated at least two big projects in town. According to an article in the Northern Colorado Business Report (Oct. 18, 2010) the company "bought a former woodworking shop to operate a site from which to drill multiple wells beneath the city." See: Richmark Energy buys Greeley building, land for well drilling.

 The 'Midtown Directional Project' will have 18 oil storage tanks, 37 separators and 2 flares on site, and was approved on May 31st by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Here is the location.

View Larger Map

 In a previous deal, the company drilled 34 wells from one site just south of the U.S. 34 Bypass and U.S. Highway 85 intersection in south Greeley. See photo below. If you zoom in, you can count the 34 well heads (square shapes) and the many gas separators. They each have a pipe which emits poisonous fumes 24/7, as do the two big flare stacks that resemble chimneys. They actually are, as they burn 'excess' gas. You see them centered, right of the green arrow. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Greeley surrounded by 20,000 oil and gas wells.

GREELEY Colo. — This is a town running on oil. From dawn till dusk, trucks carrying men and machinery rumble away for the oil and gas fields. About 425 wells are tucked within the city limits;..and that number is expected to grow to 1,600 in coming years. A vacant patch of grass near graduate student housing on the city's east side bears this sign: “Future Drilling Site.”

“These wells are going to be here for a long time,” said Wendy Highby, a librarian at the University of Northern Colorado who joined a group of residents to oppose the project . “They’re what we’re leaving to our children.”
 Read NY Times article: Supporting Oil and Gas, but Resisting Encroachment'

On May, 29, 2013, 100 barrels of brine water spilled to the ground, just 160 feet from the river. One barrel is 42 gallons. A valve on the tank had failed. 

See:  Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission  database ( May, 29, 2013 ).

Diesel smoke is spewed in big puffs 120 times an hour;
2880 times in 24 hours, for 5 to 8 days per well.
22 wells are planned at Island Grove