Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Hazmat of Pre-Refined Gas and a House Explosion

Map of oil and gas wells in Colorado. Click on the map to link to the interactive map. From the Denver Post.

Pre-refined gas is a mixture of methane and propane that comes from natural gas wells. Pre-refined means that it hasn’t yet been refined into natural gas for energy. It is an extremely flammable gas and a hazard that is managed in the oil and gas industry. It’s not something you should have to worry about blowing up your home. Unfortunately a pipeline leaked this gas into a house in Firestone, CO. The house was built only a few hundred feet from a natural gas well. The leaking gas ignited in the house and the explosion killed 2 people. You can read more about this tragedy here. I’ve been asked about this several times since it happened. Therefore, here’s the basic how and why. Continue reading

The Hazards of Methane and Coal Processing

See the flame? That’s gas flaring at an oil refinery.

Methane emissions and coal mining have received attention from the current Federal government administration. You can read about the regulations and policy here, here, or here. Instead of rehashing all of that, I want to take a look at the hazardous properties of these chemicals. Let’s get a little hazmat’ish today and address the hazards of methane and coal processing chemicals.

First, I breakdown the health and environmental impacts of methane. Methane emissions can be part of the gas flaring at oil and gas production sites. Then I look at a few of the chemicals involved in coal processing. They are the unsaid, and often unknown, part of “clean coal.” Continue reading

Environmental Inspiration: Finding It or Not

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Maybe another environmentally conscious brewery will help me find my environmental inspiration.

It’s been 2 1/2 months since my last post. That’s my longest drought without writing. I wondered if I’d lost interest in writing and creating. No. I wondered if I’ve been busier. Not really. The only reason is that nothing has inspired me to write. It’s that simple. I haven’t found any “environmental inspiration.”

Writing this blog is about telling stories from the perspective of an environmental professional that excite, entertain, or educate me. As a science communicator, it’s important to me tell the stories of the environmental profession. If I can find my environmental inspiration, or tell of someone else’s, that will hopefully be conveyed to the reader.

There’s been plenty I could have written about: lack of climate or science discussion in the election coverage, pipeline protests, environmental art, science education, or Nobel Prize winners. But none of it brought me here.Why? There’s several reasons I thought about: family, vacation, work, maybe even football season. No. All of those things have inspired me to write in the past. Well, not exactly football, but other sports.

Of course, it is odd that I’m writing about how I couldn’t find something to write about. That’s the idea. I hope this will reinvigorate my writing and help me find my environmental inspiration. I’ve heard several professional writers give similar advice; “If you want to be a good writer, write every day.” There’s also countless stories and advice about creating small daily habits to achieve big goals. I don’t plan to write every day. But I am setting a goal of 10 posts over the next 5 months, November through March.

Until then, here’s 3 of my favorite articles from the past few months.

Glenwood Canyon Geology: A Drive By

Glenwood Canyon

Entering Glenwood Canyon from the east.

Driving on I-70 through Colorado is beautiful. From Denver to Vail the drive through the mountains is spectacular. You go over two 10,000+ ft mountain passes – the Continental Divide and Vail Pass. Then there’s a big change. The geography and geology transform drastically as you approach Glenwood Canyon. Even if you have no interest in geology or physiographic provinces, it’s a fun, cool drive. Here’s the drive-by look at the geography and geology of the canyon. “Layman’s terms. None of that inside bs jargon.Continue reading

The Toxic Animas River

You’ve seen the orange yellow water. It’s diluted downstream. But do you know what toxins were actually released in the Animas River? What are the hazards of this contamination? Here’s a look at the Toxic Animas River.

Although the metals will dilute downstream, they are heavy metals. That means much of it has settled on the bottom of the river and/or attached to organic matter. That’s good. The settled metals will be covered over by more river sediment, which reduces exposure. That’s bad. They’re still in there, exposed to the water and can be kicked up. Continue reading