Colorado health and toxics
Oil and gas development is rapidly advancing throughout Colorado. As currently practiced, it threatens public health.
Regulatory gaps put public health at risk
Citizens in Colorado are worried about the hazardous chemicals used during drilling and production, and the health impacts of the pollution released from oil and gas operations.
Lack of chemical disclosure and monitoring leave Colorado communities in the dark about oil and gas health impacts.
Many Colorado residents are experiencing health impacts that they believe are directly related to the release of oil and gas industry chemicals and wastes.
Residents, as well, are experiencing frustration with the lack of monitoring and information provided by industry and government representatives, when spills or chemical releases occur.
Unfortunately, there are regulatory gaps that prevent emergency preparedness staff, water utilities, local and environmental staff, medical professionals, health departments, and people living in close proximity to oil and gas facilities from obtaining complete information on the oil and gas industry chemicals that are being transported through, stored, and used and released in their communities.
The chemical products used throughout the exploration, drilling and production phases of Colorado's oil and gas development are made up of a wide variety of chemical compounds.
Although it is common to hear from industry and some state agency representatives that drilling and production chemicals and wastes are benign, there is competing industry information indicating that toxic chemicals are used and released throughout the development process.
- In a 2004 presentation by BJ Services, one of the world's largest oilfield service companies, it was reported that about 2,500 chemicals are being used by the oil and gas industry; and that globally, the United States is behind other countries when it comes to phasing out the more toxic chemicals.
- By combing through the files of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, it is possible to find proof that Colorado companies are using toxic compounds such as diesel fuel, which contains cancer-causing chemicals, and 2-BE, which is a chemical that interfere's with the endocrine systems of living organisms. This information is not routinely gathered by the COGCC.
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Inc. (TEDX) reviewed oil and gas industry chemicals being used in Western Colorado. The TEDX data indicated that numerous oil and gas industry chemicals present risks to human and environmental health.
There are a variety of sources of contamination and pathways for oil and gas contaminants to enter the environment and affect human health, and ample evidence that these chemicals are being released to the environment via air and water.
In June of 2006, OGAP submitted a letter to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) on behalf of five citizens organizations in Colorado. The groups asked that state agencies to require disclosure of the chemicals used and monitoring of chemicals and wastes released by the oil and gas industry in Colorado.
- Download a copy of the original letter sent to the COGCC and CDPHE
- Download the most recent summary of Colorado oil and gas chemical toxicity and health data
- Download Colorado oil and gas chemical and waste incidents
The five organizations include:
- San Juan Citizens Alliance
- Western Colorado Congress
- Western Slope Environmental Resource Council
- Grand Valley Citizens Alliance
- Earthworks' Oil and Gas Accountability Project
Contact the group nearest you to find out how you can participate in this effort.
For more information:
- Earthworks: Health Impacts
- Earthworks: Contamination Incidents
- Earthworks: Oil and Gas Chemicals and Health
- Earthworks: OGAP's Public Health and Toxics main page
- Earthworks: New Mexico Health and Toxics Issues
- Earthworks: Oil and Gas Pollution
- Earthworks: Air Pollution from Oil and Gas
- Earthworks: Colorado Air Pollution from Oil and Gas
- Earthworks: Oil and Gas Waste Disposal
- Earthworks: Landowner Stories
- Orion Magazine: Voices from the Gas Fields, November/December 2006. Features stories of residents in Garfield County, Colorado. There are also audio and video clips with additional stories, and information on issues related to oil and gas and health.