Parachute Creek meanders through a breathtaking mountain valley north of Parachute. The land is now dominated by Williams and WPX Energy oil & gas sites and facilities. Williams’ massive Parachute Plant Complex includes a gas processing plant which is the site of the 2013 Parachute Creek spill.
In this video, Earthworks thermographer Pete Dronkers focuses the FLIR GF 320 on the Williams gas processing plant, which is also a 24/7 toxic emissions factory. At 2:41 the scene changes to a WPX well pad along CR 215 north of Parachute. The semi-tractor was idling during filming, as you can see from the glow at the end of the exhaust pipes. Compare the emissions from the semi-tractor with the surrounding tanks and vent pipes. Next at 3:18 is a pipeline compressor station on CR 215 with all six compressors operating. The air above is filled with toxic clouds of hydrocarbons.
This video shows two facilities along CR 215 north of Parachute, and south of the Williams Plant Complex. First, a close-up view of a tank farm where the vents are pumping out toxic emissions 24/7. Next, a couple of seemingly harmless produced water tanks, but one is venting. The other one is probably empty.
Our 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!