Toxic emissions pollute air at Erie’s Aspen Ridge Prep School

November 14, 2017

FLIR, oil and gas drilling, Weld County

The caption on this video is misleading. The chemicals didn’t leak. The chemicals were emitted from the Crestone Vessels Minerals Well Site with the full knowledge of Crestone and the COGCC.

On Saturday, November 11, Denver Channel 7 featured this news story about Vessels Minerals Well Pad near the Aspen Ridge Preparatory School in Erie, CO.

Oil & gas plug site forced to shut down after violation is found near elementary school

WELD COUNTY, Colo. – An oil and gas plug site was forced to temporarily shut down its operations after the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) found it violated safety practices near an elementary school in the Town of Erie.

The order to cease operations at Crestone Peak Resources LLC came after an investigation of an odor complaint on September 12, according to the Notice of Alleged Violation Report (NOAV) from the COGCC obtained by Denver7.

The report states COGCC staff inspected the Vessels Minerals ‘E’-61 location — which houses a well plugging operation — and observed venting from open top tanks on the west side of the location, approximately 25 yards from the playground of Aspen Ridge Preparatory School, as well as “the absence of temporary walls on the west side of the location, children playing in the playground and watching the rig crew’s operation, and volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”) visibly drifting toward the children in the playground.”

Staff then took photographs of the site showing the proximity to the school playground and also took optical gas imagery video showing gases venting out of the open top tank next to the playground.

Because of the proximity of the plug site to the school and because of the gases venting from the open top tank, COGCC staff requested – and the operator performed – a safety shutdown to cease operations and venting at the Vessel Minerals ‘E’-61 site until the operator can implement safer practices to better control the release of those gases, the report states.

Click here to read the COGCC report.

Monday evening, November 13, Denver Channel 7 aired this follow-up:

State acknowledges miscommunication over oil and gas venting near Erie school

ERIE, Colo. – The state acknowledges communication could have been better in letting parents of children at Aspen Ridge Preparatory School know that hazardous gases were wafting toward the school from a nearby oil and gas well.

Denver7 reported last Friday that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found drifting into the playground of the K-8 charter school from a nearby well owned by Crestone Peak Resources.

The company was ordered to cease operations at the well on Sept. 12, and said Monday it immediately took action by combusting the gas rather than venting it.

Crestone also acknowledged Monday it didn’t communicate to the school the violation involving the drifting gases, however. “We sincerely apologize for this oversight,” the company said in a statement …

Below is drone footage by Erie Protectors showing the Vessels Minerals Well Pad described in the article above.

Facility 335664: Vessels Minerals Well Pad, operated by Crestone Peak Resources. The COGCC issued a Notice of Alleged Violation (NOAV) for this site on October 25, 2017.

According to the November 13 news story: “The company was ordered to cease operations at the well on Sept. 12, and said Monday it immediately took action by combusting the gas rather than venting it.”

However below is an Earthworks FLIR video filmed on October 17, 2017, more than a month after operations were ordered shut down at this site. The video shows toxic emissions coming from Crestone’s combustor (or burner) on site. Whereas the FLIR video filmed by the COGCC in September and shown in the November 13 news video shows toxic emissions that are described as coming from a tank, though it’s difficult to discern where the emissions are coming from in the brief shot. The burner in the video below is located to the left of the purple tank shown in the Erie Protectors’ drone footage.

Crestone Vessels Minerals Well Site, Weld County, CO
Filmed 10/17/17
Crestone Peak Resources Vessels Minerals Well Site (40.033214, -105.051748)

All video taken by a certified thermographer with an industry standard optical gas imaging camera, the FLIR GasFinder 320. The $100,000 camera is specially calibrated to detect methane and other VOCs, and is used by industry and regulators for that purpose.

Click here for more infrared videos in the Colorado Community Empowerment Project.
Click here for more info on the Community Empowerment Project and the FLIR GF320 optical gas imaging camera.

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

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