Garfield County’s air sampling data leads to injection wells discussion |

Garfield County’s air sampling data leads to injection wells discussion

Alex Zorn

Jonathan Furst with Air Resource Specialists, helped design, build and install the monitor at the Battlement Mesa D pad. Samples are collected and shipped to the lab, Eastern Research Group, by Garfield County Public Health staff.
File photo

Garfield County completed its fourth quarter air quality sampling for 2018, and after sending the data to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Garfield County Public Health’s Morgan Hill reiterated on Monday that the samples continue to show low health risks.

According to the fourth-quarter summary, all concentrations of individual and combined volatile organic compounds were shown to be below long-term health guideline values established by state and federal agencies.

Hill did mention that, when the health officials were out collecting samples, twice they detected an odor on site and collected grab samples both times.

The grab samples, collected on Oct. 1 and Dec. 5, showed higher hazard quotients, though all samples were below health risks.

The downwind grab sample on Oct. 1 had a hazard index of 1.49, according to the data.

A hazard index (HI) of 1 or lower means air toxins are unlikely to cause adverse non-cancer health effects over a lifetime of exposure, according to the EPA website. Even an HI greater than 1 doesn’t necessarily mean adverse effects are likely, according to the EPA guidelines. 

Hill said that all other downwind and upwind samples collected during this quarter had a hazard index below 1 (0.05 – 0.7). Therefore, this single sample likely does not represent ongoing chronic conditions, she said in her report.

Hill added that the October and December grab samples were taken while there was produced water transfer ongoing, which she said explained the odor.

Begun in March 2017, the county’s site-specific air monitoring program looks at the air quality impacts from Ursa Operating Co.’s activities within the Battlement Mesa PUD

County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said Ursa Resources will need to continue to transfer produced water as long as there’s no injection well onsite.

While Ursa received county approval for the onsite injection well at the A Pad, the local citizen groups Battlement Concerned Citizens and Grand Valley Citizens Alliance filed a suit against the proposal in Denver District Court.

Jankovsky offered that the produced water was supposed to be piped to an injection well, but because of the lawsuit Ursa will have to continue to transfer the water via trucks.

Battlement Concerned Citizens Chairman Dave Devanney responded to Hill’s presentation on Monday, stating his concern over the air quality in the Battlement Mesa community.

“These kinds of reports we see what we want to see in them,” he said. “I don’t find it comforting to see the risk is within comfortable limits.”

“Is it any wonder we have legislation to better protect residents from oil and gas development?,” he asked, referring to Senate Bill 181.

In less than a month, the bill, which seeks to change how the industry is regulated in Colorado, has now passed through three State Senate committees, the full State Senate, and two House committees.

Jankovsky pushed back on Devanney’s view, stating that the county approved an onsite injection well, which would have improved the air quality in Battlement Mesa. He said the lawsuit is preventing that from moving forward.

Jankovsky also added that he won re-election last November by a large margin in the Battlement Mesa community, and said that those community members were clearly in line with the county’s approval of the injection well.

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