Here is the break down of wet & dry gas in the Piceance Basin where the three year air study at the Battlement Mesa town in Garfield county Colorado took place that shows elevated risks in being within 1/2 mile and also outside of 1/2 mile of drilling for natural gas which is almost an even mix of both dry and wet…..“Piceance basin is expected to be 1.125 bcf/well of wet gas generating a sales stream of .98 bcf of dry gas plus 90,000 bbl of natural gas liquids and condensate.”
Here is an Actual cut and paste from Health Assessment portion of report….“Production tanks are only one of a number of potential sources of VOC emissions from natural gas operations. Some sources, such as flow back operations, are likely to cause a higher emission rate of VOCs, while others, such as glycol dehydrators, may have VOC emissions similar to the production tanks. Monitoring of production sites is needed to assess the long term emissions and how these emissions affect long term exposures to nearby residents. It is important to note that there is a tradeoff when using combustors versus not controlling condensate tanks at all. Combustion of fugitive VOC emissions generates carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxides, whereas venting results in VOC emissions. Therefore, vapor recovery is preferred over venting or combustion for controlling fugitive VOC emissions
We know that well completion operations emit the higher levels of contaminants than drilling operations. The 2008 Garfield County Air Toxics Study which monitored four sites undergoing drilling activities and four sites undergoing well completion activities concluded that the well completion activities emit larger volumes of VOCs than drilling activities. The report indicated that the high concentrations of organic VOCs could be of great concern, as many of the well pads are located close to populated areas in Garfield County. In addition, the report indicates that local wind speeds, directions and surrounding topography are important factors in influencing levels of pollutants at any one sampling site. The report called for further research into how pollution concentrations are affected by these variables and concluded that research is needed to understand the local effects that such drilling and completion activities can have on the public at large29. Furthermore, statistical comparisons of ambient air to well completion sample results for benzene and other contaminants demonstrate that short-term exposures to air pollutants during well completion activities have the potential to be significantly greater than overall ambient air exposures (Appendix D Table 2-12).
We know that the COGCC’s 350 foot setback for high density areas was based on a 100 meter setback distance established by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board to decrease the likelihood of death from exposure from an accidental release of hydrogen sulfide gas 30 (Stuart Ellsworth, Engineering Manager COGCC, January, 18, 2011). The 350 foot setback does not address short and long term health effects that may be associated with periodic or continuous exposure to other air pollutants, noise exposure, and accidents. At this time there are no known studies that document the safe distance between wells and homes, schools and other places where people congregate.”
In my paraphrasing from the conclusion portion of the report (and adding my two cents here and there) …..the report estimated a Hazard Index of 40 (which should be 1 or less to be health effect free) for acute non-cancer for a child living adjacent (1/2 a mile or less) to a well thanks to the found Benzene, Trimethylene and n-nonane in the air. All this before you consider the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and (some still secret) chemicals in the fracking fluids and Particulate Matter 2.5, Particulate Matter 10, & Ozone (and all the “aldehydes”) that were NOT measured…so taken together the Hazard Index of 40 could be underestimated. (The only consolation is that the EPA goal has been asserted by some …. probably industry folks… to be overly protective of public health).
The report estimated a cancer risk of 83 people per one million people living adjacent to a well. While this was in the EPA acceptable range of 1-100 people per million (but unfortunately at the high end of the range), it exceeded the EPA goal of <1 cancer per million. This risk of cancer translates to less than one cancer per 5,041 residents (<.02%). So take .0002 times Arlington’s population of citizens living or going to school near a drill site and calculate their risk for cancer based on the Battlement Mesa study (minus the aldehydes, PAH’s, frack chemicals, PM & ozone that were NOT measured) and that then is probably “significantly underestimated.”
Now for those residents “not” living adjacent to a well pad (over 1/2 mile out)…. the report conclusion for that population goes down from 83 cancers down to an estimated risk of 71 cancers per million which was in the EPA acceptable range of 1-100 people per million, but still exceeds EPA’s goal of <1 cancer per million, and is still near the high end of the acceptable range. Now the bad news…this is severely underestimated due to not having tested those contaminants of potential concern and NOT having toxicology values.
I called Mr Arrington, a spokesperson from the area and asked about their gas to see if it was similar to ours being that Arlington has dry gas. He said “even dry gas gives off volatiles and ozone from hydrocarbons”.
BTEX has been used in fracking chemicals, it is also normally occurring down from the bowels of our earth where drilling brings it back up. BTEX is also in diesel which is the fuel of choice for gas & oil mining. BTEX volatilizes in the air we breathe and can travel up to 180-200 miles in our air shed.
Here is another cut and paste from a recent aquantance, Linda Halteman Lewis, D.C., that has an interest in this study as their town brings on more drilling…..
“Health effects of Hydraulic Fracking
In addition to the proprietary chemicals kept secret by the “Halliburton Loophole”:
Known Carcinogens: Benzene
Particulate matter 2.5
Neurological & Respiratory Toxins: Carbonyls
Ground level ozone
All of these toxic substances interact in powerful and not completely understood ways to make their effects even more dangerous. The most vulnerable groups include babies and children, older people, and those with pre-existing conditions and sensitivities.
Dr. Sandra Steingraber, a well-known biologist, and Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College, states that these fracking chemicals are reproductive toxins as well.
The Health Impact Assessment done by the Public Health School of the University of Colorado analyzed the data from the extensive fracking already done in Garfield County to help predict fracking impacts to the community of Battlement Mesa. This table illustrates their findings:
Highly negative impacts are predicted for: Air Quality -14.5
Water and Soil Quality -11.5
Noise, Vibration, and Light -10.5
Accidents and Malfunctions -10
Mixed results (some positive, some negative) are predicted for: Community Wellness
All quotes below are from the Garfield County Health Impact Assessment
“Natural gas development and production and the diesel engines used to support them have the potential to release hundreds of hydrocarbons, carbonyls, and other contaminants into the air. People can be exposed to these contaminants as they breathe ambient air in and outside of their homes.” (page 19)
“Air samples collected when residents (of Garfield County) noticed odors contained levels of benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylenes that were greater than EPA screening levels for residential ambient air.” (page 22)
“There is the potential for the production tank on each well pad to emit 37 TONS PER YEAR of VOC’S (volatile organic compounds, including methane)”. Take this times the number of proposed wells in Routt County (possibly 4000) and we will have no air quality left to worry about! (page 21)
Water and Soil Quality
There is the potential “to release hundreds of metals, salts, hydrocarbons, carbonyls, and other contaminants to groundwater, surface water, and soil.” Exposure may occur through “ingestions of water, incidental ingestion of soil, dermal absorption from water, inhalation of soil particulates, inhalation of VOC’s released from water during activities such as showering, and inhalation of VOC’s in building air.” (page 26)
“Significant contamination of water supplies with salts, such as those containing chloride, can make the water unsuitable for human consumption and stress water treatment facilities”. (page 27) And this is most particularly true in the event of a drought.
And then there is the example of Pavillion Wyoming, where a long-term EPA study has shown contamination of domestic wells caused by fracking. The chemicals found were benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
“A sample of snow melt collected from a Rulison well pad contained levels of benzene greater that regulatory limits.” (page 31)
“Several research studies have correlated increased crime rates with communities involved in natural gas development and production, including crimes such as domestic violence, rape, prostitution, assault, child abuse, and homicide” (page 46)
“Several studies have reported an increased burden of substance abuse behaviors in communities involved in natural gas development and production.” A recent study, conducted by White River Counseling, of EnCana subcontractors working in CO, said that “66.3% of subcontractors were concerned about methamphetamine use among their employees, and 68.9% were concerned about heavy drinking.” (page 47)
Accidents and Malfunctions
There have been over 1000 spills reported in Colorado in a 2 ½ year period with 231 occurring in Garfield County in that same time frame. In Garfield County, 66,386 barrels of fracking fluids were released into the air, soil, and water. Documented cases of well fires, blowouts, tanker spills, condensate tank emissions and pit discharges have all occurred in Garfield County. When we consider that these chemicals cause harm in the tiny amounts of parts/per/million or trillion range and continue to do so over time, its clear that it is unacceptable to bring fracking to Routt County (or anywhere else on earth!) (pages 59-61)
Further documentation of the effects of fracking on health can be found in the articles listed at the routtcountyfrack.org website. Of particular interest is the ProPublica article from September 16, 2011, as it details the effects on peoples’ health in a readable, well researched manner.
And beyond all of the terrible risks to human health, what about the earth? Our health is inextricably linked to the vitality, balance, and wisdom of our planet. Does it really make sense to pump our home full of poisons, destroy the pressure balance of the earth beneath our feet, and kill all of the billions of living earth microorganisms that make life possible? We have been given energy sources beyond what we can ever use in solar, wind, geothermal, etc. But all the subsidies and tax breaks have gone to oil and gas, so renewable energy is seen as “not really ready to supply our needs”. $4 billion of subsidies, one years’ worth of breaks for oil and gas, invested in renewable energy would go a long way to supplying our needs now and in the future in a safe and responsible way.
Linda Halteman Lewis, D.C.”