April B., Mom of Three, Boulder County

Holding Hands

Meet April B., Mother of 3, living in Boulder County:

I am a mom to three boys. I have lived surrounded by wells for 10 years and within a few hundred yards of what appear to have been open pits for 6. We were never informed of the pits, or of the chemicals in use, dangers of operations, and ongoing possible health implications of the surrounding operations. In our first home, we felt tremors and small earthquakes, in our current home we have many more issues.

We currently live near 5 wellheads, a BTEX burner, 2 separators and 2 Condensate tanks. Beyond this we are surrounded by 34 wells within a ½ mile radius. We have been told to evacuate our home by CDPHE from a possible H2S release. Only to have an investigation team on site days later, when obviously no issues would be found. We have called the fire department multiples times from toxic gasses seeping into our home. Only to have them not equipped with adequate detection monitors for the chemicals of concern. I don’t bother calling them anymore because they can’t help me.

At night, I can look out my son’s window and see the flames inside the closest BTEX burner. Loud sounds and burning noises are a common occurrence. Vapors rise from the numerous burners surrounding our home, day and night.

We have been sick. I have an unexplained lesion in my spinal cord. I had to deal with a spinal tap, regular MRIs and ongoing testing. After we found the lesion, I do not remember 6 months of my life. A precious time when my second baby was less than a year old. In addition, our family deals with many more health issues, not limited to the following: Headaches, Severe Migraines, Children with gushing bloody noses, Confusion, Memory loss, Hyper tension, Hair loss, Concentration problems, Severely unexplainable autoimmune disorders and allergies for multiple family members, Pains and weakness in our bodies, Serious GI issues (to the extent of a child needing a colonoscopy, and multiple family members needing endoscopies. All with no findings), Chronic painful reflux for everyone, Complete body itching night and day for months with no explanation and no treatment available, Periods of dizziness to the point of not being able to walk or climb stairs in both children and adults, My son also developed severe asthma shortly after the BTEX burner was put online next to our house, My husband redeveloped his childhood asthma at the same time and I developed new asthma symptoms, Chronic sinusitis for one child( which has led to antibiotic resistance and CT scans), Sickness, lethargy and abdominal pain that lasted for months after the most recent well was completed by our home, with clear CT scans, blood work and stool samplings.

Only narcotics could help until the pain went away. Just when we thought we had seen the worst. My son recently developed a rare neurological disorder. His body began to lose control with ticks and twitches. He has torn all the muscles in his neck and cut his hands from repeatedly gripping so hard. With his hands wrapped, writing at school has become a challenge. And playing guitar, his favorite way to self-calm is not always an option. It is unbearable to watch as a parent, let alone live with as a child.

He is the bravest person I know. He submitted a testimony to the EPA in 2011, about his concerns regarding the wells. About how he could no longer play in his tree-fort next to the nearby condensate tanks. In addition, a BTEX burner now stands where there used to be a huge beautiful Cottonwood tree and the owls are gone. Though this is right next to our home, I am warned to not walk too close without fire retardant clothing on. But every time I ask, I am told we are safe!

Recently, I requested the Town of Erie and EnCana place a VRU on the site by my home. This request was declined because:

1. It was too expensive

2. And because the time of highest production had supposedly ended and the VRU would not help

However, according the Production Logs on the COGCC website, for “Vessels Minerals”, production has certainly not subsided. In fact, in some instances it appears to have remained steady or increased.

Everything I know, I have been forced to learn on my own. The lack of information and transparency the Industry is entitled to is unacceptable.

~ April B.