La Plata County mulls update of oil, gas rules
DURANGO ” La Plata County is considering a new regulation that would require oil and gas companies to tell emergency-room workers what chemicals they use if someone is exposed to them.
The proposal follows a report of a nurse at a Durango hospital becoming gravely ill after treating a gas-field worker who was exposed to chemicals.
Doctors who treated nurse Cathy Behr say they were told it was proprietary information when they tried to get specific information about the chemicals.
Doctors treated Behr for chemical exposure after ruling out viruses and infections. She got progressively sick a few days after treating the gas-field worker in April and wound up in the intensive care unit of Mercy Regional Medical Center.
Clinton Marshall, the worker Behr treated, told The Durango Herald last week that he doesn’t believe the chemical that he was exposed to sickened Behr because he didn’t get any of it on the clothes he wore into the hospital.
Behr has said she and other hospital employees noticed a strong chemical smell coming from the man.
La Plata County, which includes Durango, is one of the state’s major natural gas producing areas.
The county is considering revising gas and oil regulations, including one to require companies to disclose the chemicals they use to emergency-room workers treating a case of exposure.
An alternative would give companies three days to disclose the information.
The county planning commission will consider the regulations Aug. 7.
It would be the first major overhaul of the county’s oil and gas regulations since they were enacted 20 years ago.
Meanwhile state regulators are considering new rules that would include a requirement that oil and gas companies disclose to the state what chemicals they use.
Some of that information is available in safety data required by the federal government at well sites, but companies have resisted mandatory reporting because of concerns about proprietary information.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the main regulatory body, is expected to vote on a comprehensive rewrite of oil and gas rules in mid-August.
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