Garfield County FLIR Tour: West Rifle booster station

FLIR still images 3-18-15We don’t know a lot about the West Rifle booster compressor station other than Encana owns it. We know it locally because of the giant flare stack that burns regularly, but not 24/7. On the day of the FLIR tour it was not flaring. This photo of the flare stack burning was taken on March 4, 2015, from westbound I-70.

Rifle flare stack 2Earthworks thermographer Pete Dronkers was unable to get close to the facility. He shot the video from Hwy 6. It is best viewed at least twice in full screen mode. Everything that glows white is emitting hydrocarbons. Notice the flare stack, even when it’s not shooting flames, it is emitting hydrocarbons. The FLIR GF 320 follows the columns of hydrocarbons from two glowing buildings with glowing stacks. Watch as the columns rise and form clouds of hydrocarbons that move rapidly eastward toward the city of Rifle. This facility is our #1 worst polluter.

earthworks_logoOur friends at Earthworks purchased a state-of-the-art FLIR Gasfinder camera (Model GF 320). FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) cameras are used by the oil & gas industry and government regulators to detect leaks of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) specifically because the FLIR has proven highly effective in the detection of hydrocarbon compounds.

Independent laboratory (third party) testing confirms that the FLIR Gasfinder Model GF 320 camera can see the following gases at the minimum detected leak rate (MDLR):

  • 1-Pentene – 5.6g/hr
  • Benzene – 3.5g/hr
  • Butane -0.4g/hr
  • Ethane – 0.6g/hr
  • Ethanol – 0.7g/hr
  • Ethylbenzene – 1.5g/hr
  • Ethylene – 4.4g/hr
  • Heptane – 1.8g/hr
  • Hexane – 1.7g/hr
  • Isoprene – 8.1g/hr
  • MEK – 3.5g/hr
  • Methane – 0.8g/hr
  • Methanol – 3.8g/hr
  • MIBK – 2.1g/hr
  • Octane – 1.2g/hr
  • Pentane – 3.0g/hr
  • Propane – 0.4g/hr
  • Propylene – 2.9g/hr
  • SF6 (Sulfur Hexaflouride) – 0.026g/hr
  • Toluene – 3.8g/hr
  • Xylene – 1.9g/hr

Infrared Training Center (ITC) certified thermographer Pete Dronkers (Earthworks Southwest Circuit Rider) brought the FLIR over to western Garfield County for a day in a gas patch. On March 7, Dronkers filmed several oil & gas sites and facilities from Garfield Creek to Silt to Rifle to Battlement Mesa/Parachute.

Declining oil & gas prices have led to a slowdown in drilling new wells, and some regional cutbacks. As a result, COGCC Director Matt Lepore and the oil & gas industry want to back off any new regulations because they cost money. Of course we would like the state to enforce the regulations already in place — especially the new air quality regulations. But they would like us all to calm down because the impacts will be magically reduced. All of the sites and facilities filmed in western Garfield County are permanent and are not affected by the slowdown in drilling. They operate 24/7. Each site and facility is identified in the videos.

At the recent Ursa community meeting in Silt, Landman Jeff Powers said, “You won’t be seeing Ursa in 2015.”

In a series of ten videos, we show you what you can’t possibly see with the naked eye. What the state and the industry don’t want you to see — the pollution the oil and gas industry is currently dumping into our air-sheds.

This series is brought to you by Earthworks and From the Styx. Please share these videos. And consider a tax deductible donation to Earthworks. Thank you!

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