Air monitoring data in Battlement Mesa shows no health risk
Air-quality monitoring near oil and gas operations in Battlement Mesa continues to show concentrations of potentially harmful below long-term health risk guidelines established by state and federal agencies, according to a Garfield County public health report to county commissioners on Monday.
“We have a clean bill of health,” exclaimed Commissioner Mike Samson following a presentation by Garfield County Public Health Environmental Health Specialist Morgan Hill.
According to the data, cancer risk estimates for benzene and ethyl benzene were within U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s generally accepted risk range from August through October.
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.
Over 50 wells were drilled at both the BMC B and D pads during the third quarter of this year, completing the company’s phase one drilling operations in the Battlement Mesa area.
While samples were collected from the D pad during phase one operations, samples will be collected at the A pad during phase two.
The sampler is designed to collect a wide range of volatile organic compounds, and results of the samplings are to be made public and reported to the commissioners on a regular basis.
While third-quarter data showed higher numbers of heavy and light alkenes in the downwind samples, all samples were below health guideline values, Hill said. That was a shift in what county health officials have seen in past samplings where there was more data from the upwind samples, but can be attributed to Ursa’s shift in activity at the D pad during the last several months, she said.
“It’s consistent with what we have seen within the last year,” she said.
All air concentrations of individual and combined VOCs were below long-term health guidelines, according to Hill.
Hill said the plan was to go to the A pad after the final quarter, but because the A pad has not received final permitting approval, a contingency plan has been set up to move to the nearby L pad instead.
Because of this gap, she said health officials will continue sampling at the D pad through March of 2019.
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