There will be a neighborhood house party for the upcoming petition campaign this Sunday, May 19, at the residence of Rick Casey. This house party is open to any Lafayette residents who want to come and volunteer to work on EBCU’s petition campaign:
6-8pm, Sunday, May 19
1118 Centaur Circle, #D
Lafayette (here’s a google map)
This will be a pot luck meeting, so bring something delicious to share!
If you want to attend, please notify Rick: [email protected]
Monday, May 6, 2013
Boulder County Commissioners
PO Box 471 Boulder, CO 80306
To The Boulder County Commissioners:
Thank you for your time and attention in addressing the concerns of this letter.
On June 11th of 2013, Boulder County’s current moratorium on new drilling permits expires, and we will potentially enter an era that will fundamentally change the composition and nature of these lands and communities. As this process could mean upwards of 1800 new oil and gas wells, we are writing to you today as professionals in the medical field to raise serious concerns about our County’s preparedness for this moment and the large-scale uncertainties this transition could represent to our profession and the communities we serve.
We feel specifically that the following actions need to be considered prior to additional drilling within Boulder County:
- Training of our medical work force related to the complexities of oil and natural gas extraction as it pertains to understanding and diagnosis of chemical exposure.
- Hazmat and decontamination training for first responders specific to oil and gas extraction and its related infrastructure.
- Baseline air and water quality studies throughout the environment of Boulder County.
- A broad education of our community members informing them of the possible signs and symptoms of exposure to the chemicals associated with gas and oil extraction, and what we know and do not know about their impacts on human health.
- A full and peer reviewed human health impact study to comprehensively assess the complex changes oil and gas extraction will represent to our community and its potential impact on future generations.
As all of these items will need to be conducted prior to the start of additional drilling, we are requesting a moratorium in Boulder County that would adequately allow for full understanding, education, and training of our workforce and public in these complex matters.
Many people in Boulder County live, work, and raise families atop the Greater Wattenberg Area. The planned drilling of new wells, in addition to an increase in industrial traffic and infrastructure, will ultimately affect a broad section of Boulder County. We feel it safe to say that this activity has the potential to bring problems on several levels, ranging from questions around our preparedness as medical professionals to its potential impacts on public health. As recently as March 25th of this year, for example, a COGCC report on well setbacks stated, “The Setback Rules are also not intended to address potential human health impacts associated with air emissions related to oil and gas development. The Commission, after consulting with CDPHE, believes that there are data gaps, related to oil and gas development’s potential effect on human health, which warrant further study”.
From the perspective of medical professionals, we know that many of the signs and symptoms of exposure to airborne chemicals associated gas and oil extraction can be vague and non-specific. Flu-like symptoms, fatigue, nosebleeds, headaches, neurological pains, and gastrointestinal symptoms are often either overlooked and/or misdiagnosed in current healthcare settings because training has not been implemented for our hospital staff or primary care professionals to recognize the symptoms of industrial chemical exposure. If we must accept the new oil and gas wells into our communities, the medical workforce of Boulder County will have to be educated and trained in the diagnosis of hydrocarbon toxicity so that public health is not compromised due to lack of medical information. Any delay in this education and training would invariably transition the burden of our generalized inexperience onto the health of Boulder County citizens.
Additional legal training will need to be provided to these health care professionals related to the issues surrounding disclosure of proprietary chemicals associated with oil and gas development. COGCC Form 35 details the conditions under which health professionals can be informed about the chemical composition of fracking fluids in the event of a medical emergency. This form was prepared by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and the Colorado Petroleum Association, and to this day leaves large legal questions about our ability to disclose essential toxicological information to affected parties. We consider this information vital to medical diagnosis and treatment.
First responders, who include firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and police officers, do not currently possess the skills and training necessary to adequately identify, respond, and mitigate the industrial accidents associated with modern gas and oil extraction industries. This places both the community and responders in danger, and leaves great uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of containment and mitigation. Due to the scale of oil and gas accidents, widespread and immediate threats to public health, environmental contamination, and property damage are all likely. All first responders would need to be engaged and dialogue generated on this issue so that adequate preparations, if possible, can be made.
We feel that additional information about our air and water conditions should to be generated and analyzed. It would seem responsible to begin studies documenting our current environmental living conditions, through broad air and water sampling, before they are subject to this new process. Such studies will provide the County with necessary baseline information prior to drilling. Boulder County has additional concerns as it is home to many farms and ranches and much agricultural activity. We do not currently know the level of toxins found in agricultural areas near oil and gas operations, and we are additionally unsure how to monitor both crops and farm animals for toxins as a secondary route of exposure to our community. This area is particularly unexplored and also worthy of full investigation and understanding.
There is additional need for full community education on the issue of oil and gas development as it relates to public health. The nature of oil and gas extraction means that our public would be regularly and increasingly exposed to a growing array of industrial chemicals. Our community members have had no training or education about the signs or symptoms of hydrocarbon poisoning, and because of this, many will delay treatment and prolong personal exposure due to their lack of adequate understanding of the nature of their ailments. We know that the longer individuals are exposed to these chemicals, the greater and more profound the damage will be to their health, and through the disruption of parental endocrine systems, can also be transferred onto unborn children.
This is a clear vacancy in our County health care policy. The authors of this letter request that County staff prepare a campaign of public education for the recognition of the signs and symptoms to chemical exposure, and that this education include information on their larger toxicology associated with the contaminants of oil and gas development. To be fair, this education would have to adequately address the vast shortcomings in the current body of scientific knowledge about oil and gas extraction as it relates to public and environmental health, and its affects our ranching and agriculture.
Finally, and for all of the reasons detailed above, we would respectfully request that a major and multifaceted health impact study be conducted by Boulder County to determine the full impacts that these 1800 wells could have upon public health and wellbeing. This study would have to be conducted prior to any additional drilling activity. In this way our community members could be fully aware of the matter and have the information available to make decisions necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families. This information would also be available to guide the Commissioners of Boulder County in your complex navigation of this matter as it relates to public health policy.
Thank you for your time and attention on this urgent issue for our community. We understand that hydraulic fracturing has weighed heavily upon the community members of Boulder County and on your offices as well. As medical professionals and advocates of public health, we request that you give the full attention, consideration, and due diligence to these matters. They are of highest importance to all of us.
Cliff Willmeng, RN, CEN
Jen Palazzolo, RPh
Amy Brockmeyer, M.D.
Edward Asher, EMT
John Hughes, D.O.
For endorsement and collaboration on the medical issues and organizing around Colorado hydraulic fracturing, please contact: