CSU Team Reports 3-year long study to Garfield County on emission rates

Tony Villalobos

Colorado State University professor Jeffrey Collet headed a study named Characterizing Air Emissions from Natural Gas Drilling and Well Completion Operation that was recently released to The Garfield County Board of County Commissions.

Collett is the head of the Department of Atmospheric Science at CSU and is the principal investigator on the three-year-long study, having collected data during 21 experiments.

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(photo courtesy of SOURCE)
Previous CSU Student Bradley Wells collects samples of a well pad.  (photo courtesy of SOURCE)

The CSU researchers collected samples from drilling, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and flow back. They studied the air emission rates, air toxins and greenhouse gasses before presenting their findings to Garfield County.

While focus on this study was not targeting health impacts, The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment plans to use the data to research potential health risks.

“We were pleased to be able to facilitate the partial funding in this research that was cutting edge and innovative,” said Garfield County Environmental Health Specialist Morgan Hill.

The study worked on quantifying emissions so their findings could be used to generate maps based on places of interest, times and weather conditions to examine potential health or air quality issues.

The CSU field team was led by research scientist Arsineh Hecobian and assisted by CSU graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and scientific staff conducted 21 separate experiments throughout 2013-15 or various operations sites.

According to Collett, access to drilling and operation sites was thanks to industry cooperation and was key to the study’s success.

The state of Colorado has already begun the process of commissioning a health risk assessment.

Garfield County funded $1 million, while industry partners funded $1.7 million towards the study. Companies were not informed on dates or information in order to avoid any potential industry influence.

“We are pleased with the results that Dr.Collet found, that will inform now other research,” said Hill.

Collett’s team is currently commissioned by the state of Colorado in a similar study of air pollution from gas and oil activity in the northern Front Range.

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Data collected by the CSU Team is available as of July 1, on the CSU data portal.

Collegian Reporter Tony Villalobos May can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @TonytheGnarly.