Council Oil and Gas Update – New Health Complaint Process and Methane Leak Isotopic Tests Out October 9

By Jean Lim

On October 8, oil and gas development was the focus of both a 5 p.m. inspector informal Q & A and a 10 p.m. Oil and Gas Update on the Council Agenda.  Some highlights were:

  • The City and County of Broomfield (CCOB) will announce a new health complaint process on October 9.  It will involve an interview process of those who file complaints and voluntary sharing of physician information.  This is to better gather data on the nosebleeds, respiratory and other health issues being experienced by those living near the Extraction pads.  This information was shared in response to a question raised by Council Member Shaff and public comments made by Wildgrass resident Jean Lim (author).  Council Member Castriotta said she counted 14 complaints of children with unexplained nosebleeds in the past two weeks.  Council Member Groom asked if the Staff was looking into “something else happening” besides oil and gas development that could account for the nosebleeds.

CCOB Manager Jennifer Hoffman said that her “heart breaks” when she reads every health complaint, but that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will not give a stronger response until there is more correlative data.  Assistant Director of Special Initiatives Laura Davis said that CCOB is considering hiring an epidemiologist to look for statistical clusters.       

  • Isotopic tests are due back on October 9 to determine the source of the methane leak near plugged and abandoned Davis 43-6 well under Graham Peak Way in Anthem Highlands.  Deep probes were done at 5 feet, 8 – 9 feet,  and about 18 feet to native soil.  After Xcel pressure tests showed no leaks in utilities pipes, Ms. Davis said other sources could be biogenic, sanitary sewer, or from an old landfill.  Residents are concerned that pressure from nearby Extraction drilling could have caused the leak, as the case with the Extraction accident at Berthoud.

Director of Special Initiatives Tami Yellico stated that they have determined that the location of the methane leak is restricted to less than 50 feet from the well.

  • Flowback began on Interchange B on October 2 (i.e. process of allowing fluids to flow from a well after fracking).  Ms. Yellico reported that there have not yet been any overflow conditions resulting in the need to vent. Council Member Kreeger asked if the closed loop system was fully in place.  Ms. Yellico replied yes for the Interchange B Pad, but that one bore under 160th west of Interchange B was just fixed and needs approval.
  • The three CCOB inspectors and two Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) inspectors were available in the lobby from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. for questions.  They displayed IR equipment and described to residents the safety mechanisms in place which can be used to kill the product flow in an emergency during flowback. 

CCOB Inspector Ed Pottoroff gave a 10 minute presentation at 10 p.m. on inspection procedures.  This covered inspection of existing facilities and plugged and abandoned wells, where they look for leak and spills.  It also included inspection of new facilities through all phases of construction, drilling, completion and production with each having its own checklist from Best Management Practices, the risk assessment, and the Comprehensive Drilling Plan.  He stated that they are on the Extraction sites every day.