Industry group questions draft HIA’s assumptions
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Garfield County officials and others are now in the process of working through comments about a draft Health Impact Assessment [DHIA] concerning the Battlement Mesa community, and plan to have a final HIA out in the next month or so.
The DHIA, prepared by the Colorado School of Public Health, was released in September, and represented a survey of “existing environmental, exposure, health and safety data pertinent to the Battlement Mesa community,” according to the executive summary of the lengthy document.
Antero Resources, a gas company working the Piceance Basin natural gas reserves, is expected soon to apply for state permits to drill up to 200 wells within the boundaries of Battlement Mesa.
The plan has drawn opposition from some residents, which led to a decision by Garfield County to endorse the DHIA prior to Antero’s application to give a base line for health information before the drilling begins.
A public comment period on the draft document ended on Nov. 15.
“We’re in the process of collating them and evaluating the comments,” said county environmental health director Jim Rada on Wednesday.
He said he had received comments from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Antero and other entities, as well as “a pretty substantial packet of comments from individuals.”
The final version of the DHIA, he said, is due to be completed by Dec. 13, although Rada noted, “It’s just a target at this point.”
Whether that deadline is met, he said, will depend on the speed with which the team can sift through the large volume of comments and then produce the final version.
One set of comments, from the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, was provided to the Post Independent on the day of the deadline.
David Ludlam, director of the WSCOGA, wrote that “a critical review of the DHIA … identified possible problematic assumptions and/or omissions” that could render the document “unrepresentative of current conditions, unrealistic and/or unsubstantiated.”
Among the troubling parts of the document, Ludlam maintained, is an assumption that all of the studies and reports consulted for the HIA actually represent conditions “that will result from natural gas development … and that all airborne contaminants detected are derived solely from natural gas development.”
In addition, Ludlam’s letter states, the HIA “does not fully consider and incorporate the current myriad of federal, state and local regulatory permits, regulations and requirements that apply to natural gas development” and that “serve to protect public health and the environment.”
His letter accompanied some 27 pages of itemized comments about details contained in the DHIA.
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