For Immediate Release

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Lindsay Meiman,

Parent asks "What Will It Take?" To Shut Down the Wells at Bella Romero

New report shows Colorado extraction oil and gas reported leak coincides with date of benzene spike​.

GREELEY, CO - Mother Patricia Nelson released an emotional letter to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis today and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) in response to a new report by Colorado Public Radio. The report found that the Extraction Oil and Gas 24-well fracking pad next to Bella Romero Academy in Greeley, where Nelson’s son attends school, reported a leak the day before Colorado Department of Public Health (CDPHE) air monitors showed a spike in benzene at the school on Nov. 5.

Although the leak was reported to the CDPHE, no parents or staff were notified and students and faculty of the school were not evacuated. The report also highlighted a discrepancy in the CDPHE’s original air quality monitoring, indicating that on the day of the Nov. 5 benzene spike, the recorded emissions reached 14.72 parts per billion (ppb), instead of the originally reported 10.24 ppb. This news comes after months of continued calls by the local community and environmental nonprofits to shut down the wells, after an analysis of emissions from 350 Colorado exposed 113 occasions during a six month period when the most appropriate 8-hour standard for carcinogenic benzene of .94ppb was exceeded.

“Already three out of four of our worst fears have been realized, even after we were promised they wouldn’t. The wells have leaked, our children have been exposed to carcinogens, and Extraction has filed for bankruptcy, the only thing that is left is an explosion. Are you still going to tell me not to worry?” said Patricia Nelson, the mother of a student at Bella Romero Academy.

Nonprofit 350 Colorado is calling on the state to take immediate action to shut down the wells at Bella Romero and enact protective regulations through SB19-181. The group says the parents and staff deserve to know immediately when leaks occur and that Colorado’s lack of protective standards leaves thousands at risk of long-term and immediate health impacts.

“Extraction’s reported leak on Nov. 4 and the reported Benzene spike on Nov. 5 is too coincidental to be left uninvestigated and reinforces the need for preemptive, protective action to protect our most vulnerable populations. With more than 50,000 wells and inadequate monitoring, how many other Colorado communities are unknowingly subjected to leaks on a daily basis? It is time we hold these polluters accountable,” said Julia Williams of 350 Colorado.

Nelson and 350 Colorado are calling on Gov. Polis and the new COGCC commissioners to adopt the most protective standards for toxic emissions from oil and gas sites near occupied buildings and especially by schools; preemptively model and continuously monitor the emissions at oil and gas sites and make the data available to the public in real-time online; and issue warnings whenever these thresholds are approached and immediately shut down operations if they exceed standards.

“You say we need to take time for SB19-181 to work, but our children do not have time. The laundry list of reasons to shut this site down keeps growing, and yet no action has been taken. Don’t wait for another Firestone to make this right,” said Nelson.

The Denver University Environmental Law Clinic has filed a CORA request to learn more about the reported leak.


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