Contrary to statements from government and industrial officials, Nobel Energy has confirmed that its workers have been exposed to hydrogen sulfide, occasionally at higher-levels, while working at in the Piceance Basin gas field. Hydrogen sulfide, which naturally occurs, is a toxic and explosive gas that can cause respiratory issues when inhaled.
The spotlight was shinned on hydrogen sulfide in Colorado following an incident involving a contractor working with Nobel Energy. In 2009, the worker became sick after inhaling hydrogen sulfide while working at a drilling site run by Nobel Energy. Along with bringing dangers of the gas to the fore, the incident resulted in an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fine.
Toxic to humans when inhaled, hydrogen sulfide naturally occurs in crude petroleum and natural gas and is also a by-product of the consumption of organic material that contains sulfur by bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that inhaling the naturally-occurring gas may cause:
- Loss of motor control
- Memory loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
The oil and gas industry is not the only one that may expose workers to hydrogen sulfide. According to the Post Independent, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATDSR) lists the following job-sites as putting workers at risk exposure to hydrogen sulfide:
- Animal processing plants / tanneries
- Sludge plants
- Paper mills
For oil and gas and other workers in Colorado, the risk of hydrogen sulfide exposure is ever present. If you or a loved one has become ill after being exposed to the toxic gas while on-the-job, speak with an experienced attorney who can help you seek workers' compensation benefits.
Sources: postindependent.com "Udall looking into hydrogen sulfide poisoning report"