Air Monitoring / Soil Gas Testing
The Ajax Analytics Third Quarter Report has been released and can be viewed here.
Air quality is a main focus of the Oil and Gas Chapter of Broomfield’s Comprehensive Plan as well as the Extraction Operator Agreement. These documents address specific action steps and Best Management Practices (BMPs) related to oil and gas development, operations, and concerns expressed by the public related to potential negative air quality impacts. Contracting for air quality monitoring will support several of the stated policies and associated action steps, as well as inform long-term strategies that may be adopted by Broomfield to address concerns expressed by the public.
Broomfield, along with Ajax Analytics, CSU, CDPHE, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research are executing the broad-scale air quality monitoring program to monitor Broomfield air quality an potential impacts from oil and gas. Broomfield City Council approved the agreement with Ajax Analytics on August 28, 2018. View the memo and agreement here. (The March 2018 RFP documents can be viewed here.)
The purpose of the air quality monitoring and testing program follows:
- First and foremost, it is important to note that the air monitoring project is NOT intended to be an emergency alert of response program. If there is an urgent matter, 911 should be used to report the situation.
- The program has the following objectives:
- Provide air quality data that can be used to inform the community of potential health risks, especially to sensitive populations;
- Monitor pollutant concentrations at or near oil and gas facilities and nearby communities. Targeted pollutants include methane, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene, and particulate matter;
- Perform trend analysis on data collected to identify increases or decreases in air pollutant concentrations or emissions;
- Provide data that ties to health based criteria for exposure limits;
- Assist in identifying exceedances in any of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and/or Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) standards for acute and/or chronic exposure levels.
In 2018, scientists at CSU and Ajax established 18 testing locations throughout Broomfield as shown on the map below. A 19th location was added in January 2019 to collect data from the Acme pad in Erie. Also, shown on the map below is the location of the CDPHE's mobile air quality unit called the Colorado Air Monitoring Mobile Laboratory (CAMML), which collected baseline testing October 29th to November 16th.
A map of the 19 testing locations follows.
On October 4, 2018, Colorado State University and Ajax Analytics deployed the first four whole air samplers (6L stainless steel canisters) to collect weekly time-integrated air samples as part of Broomfield's Community-Scale Air Quality Monitoring Project. Two canisters were located near the sites of future oil and gas activities, one was located near the Anthem Ranch neighborhood, and the fourth was located near Broomfield County Commons Fields. These samples will be used to establish baseline concentrations of ambient volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including benzene, ahead of future oil and gas extraction activities. Installation of the City and County of Broomfield air quality monitoring stations at 19 locations (indicated on map above) will provide important air quality metrics for the city and these stations will be installed on existing poles or tall fence posts installed by Ajax Analytics. The monitoring stations will have minimal impact on the landscape and vegetation. For sites without existing street light poles, Ajax Analytics installed 12’ fence posts. The monitoring stations were deployed in early December and January. The public portal was available in February 2019.
- Summa canister sampling continues. The data is anticipated to be summarized and reported in the 1st quarterly report in April 2019.
- All 19 air monitoring stations have been installed and are operational. (See the updated map above.) As of February 2019, over 2,600,000 data points taken already as part of the monitoring station validation process.
- The public portal was released in February 2019.
National Center Atmospheric Research
- NCAR completed the proof of concept for use of the drone to measure air quality measurements vertically.
- Once the data has been published as part of a paper being submitted by Lizzie Asher from NCAR, it will be available to Broomfield.
- NCAR data going forward will be summarized and included in the quarterly reports.
- The baseline data obtained by CAMML from October 29 to November 16 is currently being validated through the quality assurance process that CDPHE uses.
- Broomfield will be notified when the report is available.
- Data collected in Broomfield will be linked in the quarterly reports.
Ajax, CSU and staff conducted an Air Quality Monitoring Study Open House on Wednesday, October 24, 2018, at the City and County Building in Broomfield.
Attendees learned more about how Broomfield’s air quality monitoring and testing program will be conducted, what tools and sensors will be used, and how results will be made accessible to the public. Representatives from the partnership between Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science and Ajax Analytics attended the event and were available to discuss the monitoring network and data analysis platform for Broomfield. CSU’s Plume Tracker was onsite and available for touring. A video of the Air Quality Monitoring Open House is available online and can be viewed here.
Air Monitoring Mobile Laboratory
Extraction Baseline Air Quality and Sound Studies
Extraction’s Comprehensive Drilling Plan (CDP) requires Extraction to provide updated baseline air quality and noise studies specific to the six well pads approved by the COGCC in Broomfield. Extraction has submitted the contractor, process, and testing location for both of these studies to Broomfield for review. Extraction’s proposal for these studies were reviewed by staff and consultants, with additional requirements requested by Broomfield, and the study proposals were administratively approved as required by the Operator Agreement and the CDP. This testing has now taken place and Broomfield is awaiting the results. It is important that both of these studies are currently being conducted so that baseline testing can be completed before pad construction. (View the baseline air monitoring information here and noise monitoring information here.)
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