Elizabeth Mobaldi became sick around the time rigs moved into her neighborhood
Elizabeth “Chris” Mobaldi at her home in Grand Junction a couple of months ago.
A woman who grew gravely ill after living near gas drilling activities in the Rifle area has died in Grand Junction, to where she and her husband moved to get away from the rigs. Elizabeth “Chris” Mobaldi, 63, died on Nov. 14, at 4:40 a.m., after a lengthy battle with a rare and persistent tumor of the pituitary gland, according to her husband, Steve. She recently underwent her third surgery related to the tumor, Steve added, and complications of that surgery led to her death. A gas industry spokesman, David Ludlam, wrote in an e-mail about Mobaldi's death: “The West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association is an organization, but we're made up of people. And on behalf of our membership, we offer condolences to the Mobaldi family. Offering anything beyond reverence, at this time, would be a great disrespect to her family and community.” Industry representatives have long argued that there is no conclusive evidence that proximity to gas wells has adverse effects on the environment or on human health. From 1993 to 2004, the Mobaldis had lived near Rifle, on County Road 320 south of the Colorado River, Steve Mobaldi recalled in a telephone interview on Tuesday. According to testimony by Mobaldi before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in Washington, D.C., the couple suffered symptoms such as headaches, burning eyes and skin, which they believed were related to the drilling rigs as close as 300 feet from their home. The first of Chris' three pituitary tumors appeared in 2001, roughly four years after gas rigs went up near their home, Steve Mobaldi said. At the time, he said, the rigs were operated by Barrett Resources, which later was sold to the Williams Cos. The couple moved to Grand Junction in 2004. Chris Mobaldi, aside from her other symptoms, developed rashes, blisters and a rare malady known as “foreign accent syndrome,” a speech abnormality that is quite rare. According to published sources, only 60 cases of the condition had been reported as of 2009, and it typically occurs as a side-effect of severe brain injury such as head trauma or stroke. A physician who treated Chris Mobaldi, Dr. Kendall Gerdes of Colorado Springs, said, “When I first met her ... I thought it must be some kind of Eastern European thing.” Asked if he agrees with Steve Mobaldi's assertion that the symptoms are in some way related to exposure to gas drilling activities, Gerdes said simply, “I do.” But, he continued, this conclusion is based on his understanding of the couple and their story, and that “there's not a lot of testing you can do that will prove or disprove that. I think that [Mobaldi's exposure to drilling chemicals] was causative. I am simply looking at time, cause and effect relationships.”He said tests indicated that Chris Mobaldi was “vulnerable” to toxic influences “because she did not detoxify as rapidly as other people,” meaning that chemicals accumulate more readily in her fatty tissues. The fact that others have reported similar symptoms they believe are caused by proximity to gas rigs, has prompted some doctors, including Gerdes, to call for greater investigation of the health effects of gas drilling. Recently, the Garfield County government supported a Health Impact Assessment to establish a base-line of data for residents of the Battlement Mesa residential neighborhood, where the Antero Resources gas company is planning to drill up to 200 wells within the community's boundaries. “It is an ongoing problem, and one that deserves a lot of attention,” said Gerdes, specifically mentioning requests by Antero for permission to drill one well for every 10 acres of land, rather than the current density of one well per 160 acres, in residential sections of the county. Industry officials have stressed that 10-acre spacing, as it is known, already is in place in many parts of Garfield County. They note that the term refers to below ground bores and does not signify a drilling rig on every 10-acre parcel of ground. firstname.lastname@example.org
Report finds 'acute problem with toxic emissions' from natural gas development in Garfield County
Glenwood Post Independent September 23, 2008 GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Current data suggests that there is an "acute problem with toxic emissions" from natural gas development, which could signify an "emergent problem for the health" of Garfield County residents, a recently released report said.
A group of seven researchers from the University of Colorado-Denver and Colorado State University said in a report that there are "major gaps" in the past assessment of air and water quality associated with oil and gas development on the Western Slope.
But "air and water quality studies conducted to date indicate that potential exposures to hazardous emissions exist" for Garfield County residents, the report said.
The researchers also said there is an "immediate need for specific information on exposures and the impact from oil and gas development on all aspects of human health."
The group of researchers also called for further monitoring, and for oil and gas companies to release water and air quality data that may have been collected but are not in the public domain.
"Basically, the little information that there is demonstrates that there is reason for concern and for further data collection," said Roxanna Witter, a clinical instructor at CU Denver's Colorado School of Public Health and one of the lead researchers on the report.
Witter said she and the others who worked on the report focused on Garfield County because the area has seen the highest jump in drilling permits in recent years.
Because of the concerns for county residents, the researchers have called for the implementation of a health impact assessment to be completed before oil and gas development near populated areas.
Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Carbondale and Pitkin and Eagle counties have asked for a health impact assessment to be included in the BLM's Glenwood Springs and Kremmling Resource Management Plan revision, according to a previous Post Independent report. The plan is expected to affect oil and gas industry activity on hundreds of thousands of acres of Western Slope land for 10-15 years.
The group of seven researchers reviewed completed studies in the county, along with a review of publicly available health data, to prepare its report. The Natural Resources Defense Council paid the University of Colorado-Denver for the report and a literature review that was prepared in connection with it.
The studies the researchers looked at included air sampling conducted in the county from 2005-07 along with its associated health risk assessment.
Results from the 2005-07 air sampling indicated that "local populations may be exposed to chemicals at levels hazardous to health," according to the recently released report. Benzene, a known carcinogen, was identified at levels of concern at 12 of 14 sites and at seven of eight oil and gas sites, the report said.
Another study researchers looked at is a nearly finished human health risk assessment done by Mesa State College and the Saccamanno Research Institute at St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Center in Grand Junction. Other studies the researchers looked at included a county water study released in 2006 and ozone monitoring in the area.
"............a group called Abe Lincoln and the Old Guard Gospel Singers to record a two-minute serenade to the tune of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene." It was rapidly passed around free on the Web, remaining on many a computer as a campaign souvenir." Conservative Dave Danforth - Aspen Daily News Sat 12/17/2005 06:00PM MST
In an unprecedented recall election, voters recalled the District Attorney of Colorado's 9th Judicial Ward. The ward encompasses some three counties, I think, and the recall wasn't exactly close. Collen Truden was thrown out be 4-1 margin. Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News.
CALGARY -- Some folks are singing the EnCana Bluegrass Blues in northwestern Colorado, blaming the Calgary natural gas giant for tainting the environment and bringing far too much development to the rugged region. ""And how did they poison my water and hay by drilling for gas in the ground?" goes a twangy line on the website of the local Garfield County Democratic Party. The mp3 of EnCana Bluegrass Blues sits alongside a parody of EnCana Corp.'s slogan, twisting "energy for people" into "pollution for the people.""
BBC World News features ‘EnCana Bluegrass Blues’ on Colorado gas drilling program
The renegade group will neither confirm nor deny any involvement in the song.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - A video of local musicians - including a workers' compensation attorney - singing a less-than-flattering song about EnCana may have been viewed by some 350 million people in various parts of the world. Clips of the song were featured in a 10-minute BBC World News America television segment on natural gas drilling in Colorado. The four musicians are Don Kaufman, with the law firm Kaufman and Kaufman LLC, plus Don and April Paine and Dustin Micheli. They all play with the Last Minute String Band. The BBC reportedly approached Kaufman after hearing an original recording and requested to film it on location on the banks of Divide Creek. The song was written after one of EnCana's wells leaked into West Divide Creek in 2004. The seep was found to contain the carcinogenic chemical benzene, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission fined EnCana a record $371,000. The video shows the four musicians along the creek in a traditional string band arrangement with guitar, upright bass, banjo and mandolin. It starts with harmony singing, "What have they done to the old home place, and how did they blow it down, and how did they poison my water and hay, by drilling for gas in the ground." Kaufman solos other lyrics including: "They drilled my ranch, they sucked my gas, they bulldozed my homestead, too," and, "Land values went south, a cold wind blows as I sit here and hang my head. I've lost my ranch, I've lost my home, and now I wish that I was dead." It ends with, "And how did they put benzene in my creek, by drilling for gas in the ground." BBC News correspondent David Willis, who reported the natural gas story, wrote in an e-mail, "BBC has an audience of about 350 million people around the world - so plenty will have caught Don and his chums." The video has also been making the rounds via the popular YouTube website. EnCana spokesman Doug Hock wrote in an e-mail, "This song is actually a re-vamp of a song called 'The Old Home Place' performed by The Dillards in the 1960s. While Don Kaufman and his group are certainly talented musicians, we prefer the original version for obvious reasons." He said nothing EnCana did was out of compliance with regulations at the time and that the company learned, along with regulators, that a different cementing procedure was needed for well casings given the area's geology. Extensive monitoring indicates there was no contamination of residential water sources, and the contamination has been effectively stopped and contained within an area of about a half-acre, Hock said. There's also an air-convection system in place to remove benzene from the groundwater, Hock said, and most importantly, the seep caused EnCana to reassess its approach to working with landowners in areas where it drills. Reached for a comment, Kaufman said, "I can neither confirm nor deny any involvement in the song." Willis says in the news segment that Divide Creek is the main source of drinking water for 10,000 people. He mentions the 2004 seep and leads into the clips of the song by saying, "Still nothing grows there, and locals have taken to venting their frustration in song." He says they call it the "EnCana Bluegrass Blues" after the company that poisoned the water with levels of benzene 80 times higher than officials deem safe. Willis closes the segment with the conclusion, "The energy companies are making billions of dollars in Colorado, yet that's not enough money to comprehensively research the effect they're having on the people who live here." The BBC segment aired April 29 and was repeated several times. A video of the segment can be viewed at uk.youtube.com/watch?v=y5iSPFbj6Zc. That segment and a video of just the song can be viewed at www.dividecreek.com. Contact Pete Fowler