Noble’s Flaherty flip-flops on H2S emissions

October 20, 2011

Colorado, Garfield County, gas wells

In a series of two Post Independent articles by reporter John Colson, Noble Energy community relations director Stephen Flaherty made contradictory statements about hydrogen sulfide emissions. Unfortunately Colson didn’t call it to Flaherty’s – or readers’ – attention.

State, Noble confirm 46 hydrogen sulfide incidents

“Our well pads are a closed system. There is no release to the atmosphere,” he [Flaherty] said, of potentially toxic emissions during drilling, hydraulic fracturing or completion procedures. That means the gas stays in the well, pipes and storage vessels “all the way to the point of sale. There is no emission or escape route.”

Noble has strict H2S safety procedures
Down-hole treatment with ‘biocides’ done to neutralize toxic gas

Flaherty said there may be times when small amounts of H2S can escape to the outside atmosphere, such as when tanks are opened for testing of the contents, or during well servicing activities later in the life of a well.

Wait a minute. Didn’t Flaherty say “no release to the atmosphere”? No escape route?

According to Flaherty, when high levels of H2S are detected the well pad is evacuated, and specialists wear protective gear and self-contained breathing apparatuses. Do they evacuate nearby residences? Do they monitor the air quality around the nearby residences?

Is there hydrogen sulfide in the air we breathe – or not? The COGCC and Noble Energy say not. I say prove it. Where is the scientific evidence? We have absolutely no reason to believe what they tell us. They have not conducted any air quality monitoring. I don’t believe them. Anyone who has smelled the air in Parachute doesn’t believe them either.

An Encyclopedia Britannica article about acid rain says this about hydrogen sulfide:

Hydrogen sulfide rapidly oxidizes to gases that dissolve in water to form sulfurous and sulfuric acids. These compounds contribute in large part to the “acid rain” that can kill sensitive aquatic organisms and damage marble monuments and stone buildings.

46 hydrogen sulfide incidents – and those are just the ones we found out about. If that’s not enough evidence of a serious problem, I don’t know what is. It’s time for Dave Neslin and the COGCC to stop playing games with hydrogen sulfide emissions. They need to get serious about public health and the environment. Get the EPA involved. Collect rainwater samples. Start air quality monitoring today.

In other news —

EPA to regulate water impacts from gas-drilling  — in 2014 — if there still is an EPA …


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