Suffocating in Silt

Correction 8/27/12 — According to COGCC’s Shaun Kellerby the well pad and flare stack belong to Bill Barrett (local oil and gas company), and not Antero as I previously thought.

***UPDATE: Even later that same day …
A magnificent hard rain fell for about a half hour around 6 p.m. Talk about an air cleansing. I’m feeling much better. Guess it wasn’t the flu after all. We have REALLY BAD AIR in Silt.

** UPDATE: Later that same day…
Shaun Kellerby from the COGCC’s Rifle office called me back this afternoon in response to my recorded complaint this morning. As I have said before, Shaun is very nice. He asked for more details. I repeated to him the information below in this post, adding that another Silt resident contacted me (on facebook) and said she saw the well flaring from her kitchen window several times last week around dusk.

Shaun said he will go up there and check it out. He added that it’s probably a gas flare. I said, “That may be, but there are also hydrogen sulfide emissions in that gas burn off.” No response. I asked him if he wears an H2S detector when he goes out to a well pad. He says “At all times.”

Ok, so there you go. Shaun will go up to Mineota Ridge and check out the well flare on that well pad. He will get back to me on Monday.


Around 11:00 a.m.

As far as I can tell, sometime during the week of August 12-19,  a flare stack went up on Mineota Ridge (Mineota Ridge Estates is a rural residential subdivision). Daughter Ema can see it from her house near 16th Street in Silt. We haven’t been able to get a photo of it in full flare mode. Still working on that. We need a camera that takes night time photos. If anyone out there has any information or can get a photo please email me:

Ema has seen the flaring several nights between 11:00 p.m. and midnight. I saw flaring between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 22, but was heading up the Silt overpass at the time, so I couldn’t exactly hop out and take a photo.

Ema came down with a respiratory infection last week and she can’t shake it. My symptoms have been gradually worsening: nausea; headache; shortness of breath; numbness and tingling in fingers, hands, toes, and feet; upper respiratory congestion like severe allergy reaction (eyes, ear, nose and throat); nervousness; dizziness; inability to concentrate. Other family members are experiencing some of the same symptoms to varying degrees at different times of day. Symptoms are always the worst in the morning.

I called the COGCC complaint line this morning. I explained our symptoms and asked if they could get the company to close in that well flare. For one thing Mineota Estates is a residential area. For another, the flare is less than a mile as the crow flies from Silt, also a residential area,

If you would like to help put the pressure on COGCC and Bill Barrett to close in the well flare, please call the COGCC complaint line: 970-285-0322

This is urgent. Again – if you have any information at all to add to this please contact me:

I’m really cranky so please don’t contact me to argue about whether or not my symptoms, or my family members’ symptoms, are related to the well flare emissions. The issue is not how I feel. The issue is the well flare up on Mineota Ridge. Well flaring causes H2S (hydrogen sulfide) emissions. The flaring is occurring too close to a residential area and too close to Silt. They have the technology to close it in. If the well pad was inside Silt city limits they would be required to use a closed system.

Hydrogen Sulfide, Oil and Gas, and People’s Health

In a related story —

Here’s why our air quality is so bad, the BLM approved drilling permits without doing the required air quality studies:  BLM plans new air quality studies for drilling

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One Comment on “Suffocating in Silt”

  1. Carl Mc Williams Says:

    For the record: As I begin to key in this message to Peggy’s blog (6:18 pm, [8.24.12]) the well on Minetoa Ridge that Peggy and her daughter have both witnessed, is flaring. The flames probably reach fifty feet into the air over Silt.

    As a former well services contractor employee, I have physically stood on over 400 well pads in Garfield County and I have seen first hand the flaring of natural gas wells. If the burning gas you see in a flaring operation was pure methane (CH4), the energy companies would not be burning up this viable commodity, they would be selling the CH4 “down-line” or they would have the well “shut in” and wait for more favorable market conditions to sell the CH4. The reason for the flarings is that the gas they are burning is not clean enough to sell “down-line”. Therefore the drilling companies burn the dirty gas that contains with the CH4, the deadly gasses and airborne particulates such as benzene and NOX. In other words, the combustion of gasses you are witnessing in a flaring operation is a cocktail of H2S, NOX, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, volatile hydrocarbons and other Volatile Organic Compounds (HAZMATS).

    Once the deadly cocktail gas, (that cannot be sold), is burned into the local air that we all breathe, the flaring operation stops and they close a few valves and open a few other valves and then sell the clean CH4 downline, or, they shut the well in. To reiterate, what Peggy and her daughter and I see in the early evening air over Silt, burning over fifty feet into the air, contains CH4 (methane) and deadly gasses that cannot be sold commercially. These other gasses causes respiratory illness and cancer and severe skin and eye irritation.

    Please think about the flaring Peggy and I are witnessing near your backyards, then remember four days ago Garfield County Commissioners, Mike Samson, John Martin and Tom Jankovsky pledging $1 Million to fund a COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY study, to sample airborne emissions from natural gas wells in Garfield County, then recall the almost unbelievable fact that the HAZMAT findings of the CSU taxpayer funded study will be kept secret until 2015, one year after Tom Jankovsky stands for reelection in 2014.

    But wait it gets worse: A further reason I decided to comment on this particular posting of Peggy’s about flarings in Silt, is that I just received from Editor Heather Mc Gregor of the POST INDEPENDENT, an email rejection of my most recent Letter to the Editor (LTE) submission, about the Garfield County Commissioners keeping the findings of the CSU study secret until 2015. I have copied and pasted the censored LTE for your perusal below.

    Editor Mc Gregor, as the editor of a privately owned newspaper certainly has the right to reject any letter she does not deem appropriate. However, I find it ironic, almost surreal, that on the one hand Peggy Tibbets sends out a blog seeking help to protect herself and her families health from natural gas well airborne emissions and asking for comments about natural gas well flaring in Garfield County, while four days before the County Commissioners approve a $1 Million tax-payer funded CSU study to investigate deadly airborne toxins from Garfield County gas wells such as Peggy is witnessing, where the results of deadly airborne particulates will be kept secret and from the public until 2015. Then as fate would have it, when I attempted to comment in the PI Letter to the Editor forum about the obviously “Crony-Capitalism” dealings of Samson, Martin and Jankovsky, by keeping the CSU collected data about deadly airborne emissions from the natural gas wells of their political bosses secret and away from the public’s view; the local editor of the only county wide newspaper in Garfield County rejects my Letter to the Editor where I blast the County Commissioners for their abuse of political power and their servile goose-stepping to the commands of their natural gas industry masters. [NOTE: Benito Mussolini would be proud of Samson, Martin and Jankovsky]

    As I key in my comments on this blog and as the gas well flaring continues to flame airborne HAZMAT into the twilight sky over Silt, here is a public comment for the owner of the POST INDEPENDENT, SWIFT COMMUNICATIONS:

    On the POST INDEPENDENT flag, (page two) you print verbatim the First Amendment. In granting your newspaper the fundamental rights of “Freedom of the Press”, our Founding Fathers also attached an implied duty. You are the watchmen who stand on the wall and are charged with making certain that there is an informed citizenry who in turn is charged with electing representatives who swear a Constitutional Oath not only defend the Constitution, but by extension uphold the ideals, values and morals of what once made America a beacon to the world. We the People of Garfield County need unbiased hard news investigative reporting from the only local county newspaper to make an informed decision at the ballot box in November. The stakes for the future of Garfield County are enormous. If the incumbent County Commissioners are reelected, over the ensuing four years, Garfield County, (from the Roan Plateau to Thompson Divide), will become a fossil fuel industrial park, quite similar to Signal Hill in Long Beach, California. The tourism industry in Glenwood will wither and disappear along with the hunting, fishing and Colorado River boating/rafting industries. Garfield County will irreparably change forever.

    Furthermore, as I watch the well flaring deadly gasses into the night air over Silt, I have this direct message for Mr. Bill Toler, the CEO of SWIFT PUBLICATIONS, the corporate owner of the POST INDEPENDENT in Reno, Nevada:

    “Mr. Bill Toler, If We the People lose an unbiased and free press and are censored by biased editor policies and editors We the People will lose everything and the Hugo Chavez’s and the Putin’s of the world will win. Political historians will attest to the fact that censorship by local editors is de facto government controlled press and it is happening at the POST INDEPENDENT. Heather Mc Gregor needs to be place upon a short leash. Mc Gregor has been sandbagging the tough local stories on fracking and natural gas drilling and sending the PI star reporter to report on bee hive ordinances, while the real hard local news is being ignored or reported by the GJ Sentinel in the next county. Mr. Toller, my email address is Email me and I will prove to you Editor Mc Gregor has either: (1) Been sandbagging the hard news about the Garfield County Commissioners that We the People of Garfield County, Colorado USA depend upon. (2) She is simply not the professional journalist shes cracked up to be. (3) She has reached the “PETER PRINCIPAL LEVEL”.

    Signed: Carl Mc Williams


    Please allow me to suggest to the 2012 Democratic Party candidates, a campaign issue that will resonate across all political party lines and will attract unaffiliated voters to the Democratic ticket in November:

    As the readers of the Post Independent know; the three Republican Garfield County Commissioners, Mike Samson, John Martin and Tom Jankovsky have approved $1 Million in Garfield County taxpayer money, (in a joint-venture with the oil & gas industry), to fund a $1.7 Million study for Colorado State University (along with a private gas industry consulting firm), to conduct scientific research and investigations for the sampling of air borne particulates and materials that are deadly and hazardous to human health. These deadly and/or carcinogenic airborne emissions may be caused by the drilling operations of natural gas wells in Garfield County.

    What should outrage the voting public is that by specific forethought and design; the findings of this Garfield County tax-payer funded research will be kept secret until 2015.

    The hubris and unmitigated audacity of such a decision by Samson, Martin and Jankovsky is “textbook statism” juxtaposed with corporatism. Today political scientists would classify the withholding of carcinogenic airborne emissions data from government funded research into the emissions of the billion dollar gas industry as “Crony-Capitalism”. In the 1930’s, this decision by Samson, Martin and Jankovsky would be entering into the boundaries of “Mussolini fascism”.

    If this CSU study was federally funded, a citizen could initiate a FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA) action and Samson, Martin and Jankovsky would be forced by federal statutes to reveal to We the People the HAZ/MAT findings. However, in Colorado FOIA statutes do not exist, which is the campaign issue suggestion for the 2012 Democratic candidates:

    Pledge to We the People that if elected, you will introduce state legislation that will enact Colorado FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT statutes. Therefore, in the future any deceptive actions by the likes of Samson, Martin, Jankovsky, and other scheming elected representatives, must then endure the disinfecting power of sunshine.

    Carl Mc Williams

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