City Contracts with CSU, Private Firm for Air Quality Testing
Broomfield City Council approved nearly $1.18 million for air quality testing in and near oil and gas sites proposed by Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc.
This initial contract goes through the end of 2019 and could be annually renewed, for a total of four years, with the cost not exceeding $2.3 million. It also is proposed that revenues from oil and gas activities be used to fund air quality monitoring.
That amount also includes the creation of a web page to report air quality monitoring results so that the data can be viewed by residents. Council members voted unanimously to pass the resolution and budget amendment Tuesday night.
Broomfield received eight proposals for the testing. A committee made of staff, consultants and residents narrowed those down to three, which then were sent to Adams County staff and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for vetting.
Based on that feedback, staff narrowed their choice two groups — Ajax Analytics of Fort Collins and the Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science. The two organizations ultimately decided to partner together to offer a joint solution.
The amounts due under the agreement in 2018 equal $715,955. Amounts due in 2019 total $463,820.
Broomfield staff believes the joint approach uses the strengths of Ajax Analytics’ so-called Internet of Things network and data analysis platform with CSU’s deep expertise in oil and gas emissions monitoring, data analytics, atmospheric science, and emissions plume modeling and tracking.
“The joint proposal combines the best of their respective technologies and leverages their strengths while mitigating their weaknesses,” according to a staff memo. “This approach provides the most comprehensive monitoring coverage of potentially affected Broomfield neighborhoods.”
Each group brings a different type of technology to the table, Tami Yellico, director of strategic initiatives, said.
Ajax will provide a platform for a monitoring station can be moved to different sites and conduct analysis of information gained from the sensor system. Broomfield staff will receive a scientific analysis of data, Yellico said, and reports that analyze each type of data in a comprehensive matter.
CSU is known for its studies in oil and gas emission rates, chemical signatures and plume dispersion patterns, she said, and will bring a plume tracking vehicle to Broomfield to measure plumes that come off oil and gas well sites.
The vehicle has been used extensively in both the Colorado Front Range as well as in Garfield County to track and measure air emission plumes from oil well sites.
The university has a database of volatile organic compound markers that will allow scientists to identify the source and type of most emissions and probable age of those emissions.
“We think with this combination of technology and scientific analysis that we will have a comprehensive program here in Broomfield,” Yellico said.
Broomfield resident Jean Lim pointed to a line in the agreement that “affords some flexibility for staff and Ajax Analytics to develop the public information portal that will relay data to residents,” and said it doesn’t provide enough detail.
Residents have a basic distrust of Extraction, she said, and staff can anticipate public concern.
In response to a council question, Brent Buck, Ajax president and CEO, said the company intends to make data available to other institutions for future research.
According to the memo, these measures include requiring the operator to perform baseline air quality testing at all of the proposed well sites, $20,000 annually towards air quality testing, leak detection and repair programs, and requiring the operator to plug and abandon all legacy well sites in Broomfield and neighboring counties within the spacing units.
Jennifer Rios: 303-473-1361, firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter.com/Jennifer_Rios