WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- In Colorado oil and gas companies don’t have to disclose what chemicals they use in their fracking operations and a physician’s advocacy group says that’s a problem. Dusty Horwitt, a consultant with Physicians for Social Responsibility, says his group has found some wells in Colorado are using PFAS in their oil and gas extraction operations.
“They can be toxic in microscopic quantities,” said Horwitt.
PFAS are man-made chemicals that take a very long time to break down and have earned the nickname “forever chemicals.” Dusty says even a minuscule amount can cause health problems.
“Including cancer, preeclampsia which effects pregnant women and other serious effects,” he said.
He says PFAS have been used in some Colorado oil and gas collection operations since 2008. He says the worry is that these chemicals will make their way into the food and water system.
He also notes that most wells using forever chemicals are in Weld County but thanks to Colorado state law, companies don’t have to disclose what chemicals they use in their extraction operations so use could be more prevalent.
“Coloradans can’t know in how many oil and gas wells these chemicals are being used,” he said.
In a statement Megan Castle the Community Relations Supervisor for Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission said:
“The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) recognizes the PSR publication and the issues it raises regarding PFAS in Colorado. COGCC will work with its state and federal partners regarding the understanding of and regulation of PFAS in relation to oil and gas operations. COGCC is taking a serious look at how this emerging issue may relate to oil and gas operations.
Companies may request a “Trade Secret” from the COGCC, but, even if granted, that does not prevent the company from providing information about the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.
COGCC’s Rule 208 addresses chemical disclosures of all chemicals, even with a trade secret designation, and how this would be made available upon request by the COGCC in circumstances such as a spill, release, complaint from a potentially adversely affected person, or when necessary to protect and minimize adverse impacts to public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources.”
Horwitt says they only way Coloradans can know for sure that they are safe from forever chemicals is if the law is changed.
“Full disclosure is necessary not just to protect the public from PFAS, but also to protect the public from other toxic chemicals that might be used in oil and gas operations,” he said.
According to the report Physicians for Social Responsibility also thinks oil and gas firms should be required to fund environmental testing and should PFAS be found, also be required to fund cleanup.