Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Denton County town calls for natural gas regulations

Confirmation of what many already knew. Natural Gas Drilling and Operations are NOT "clean burning" at all. This could happen to any city here in North Texas. Another reason better regulation and accountability is needed for all gas drilling. Below are some articles and press releases.

We must demand that the gas drilling industry have respect for our health and safety. Another reason that strong local Oil & Gas Ordinances are important.


DISH, Texas — A Denton County town of less than 200 is leading a charge for change.
The push began with Dish residents fighting for state oversight of natural gas pipelines. Now, scientists have confirmed their worst fears.
The tiny town has nearly a dozen gas compression engines, and it was a lingering smell in the air that led to initial concerns over air quality.
Many say it was lax state regulations that led the Town of Dish to be at the mercy of industrial pollution from natural gas compression stations.
The town, which has eleven engines pressurizing natural gas from pipelines within its limits, paid for its own study. Dish sits at the crossroads of nearly a dozen high-pressured lines.
"There were 16 total toxins that were above TCEQ-established limits," said Mayor Calvin Tillman, referring to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Tillman said some levels of cancer-causing agents and neurotoxins were 100 times above state standards.
"The industry has told us time and time again that what were smelling is just odorant; it's nothing that would harm us," Tillman said.
At a Dish Town Hall meeting Monday night, environmental scientist Alisa Rich told residents unusually high levels of benzene, carbon disulphide and xylene were discovered in the air.
"It's absorbed very readily in the lungs, often times resulting in GI problems," she said.
Dish town leaders called on companies to shut down the gas compressors until more tests are done.
"I would like to see a safety stand down," said one leader.
While most residents at the meeting said the news didn't send them into a panic, they said it has raised serious concerns.
"I'm definitely alarmed for the little one," said Zack Smith, a Dish resident, while standing next to his wife and young daughter. "I don't want to subject her to anything she shouldn't be subjected to, as well as I don't want to be subjected to anything I should be subjected to. I am beginning to wonder if that's the case."
The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality is also doing its own testing on Dish's air quality.
There are hundreds of gas compressors across North Texas. Environmental scientists say there has not been a lot of air testing done to keep up with the growth of the compressors.

NEWS RELEASEEmbargoed for release until: October 13, 2009
Contact:Calvin Tillman, Mayor of DISH Texas, (940) 453-3640
Kathy Chruscielski, Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project, 817-692-6206
Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper, 845 482 5400/845 901 1029
Gwen Lachelt, Earthworks, 970 259-3353
Jennifer Goldman, Earthworks, 406 587-4473

DISH, Texas – The Town of DISH, TX has announced that its air quality study found seven locations where carcinogenic and neurotoxic emissions violated limits set by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The town commissioned the study – which cost 15% of its total budget – to assess the mega-complex of compressors, condensate tanks, and major pipelines that process and transport natural gas extracted from the Barnett Shale underlying the area.“Frankly, I didn’t think the results would come back as bad as they did,” said Mayor Calvin Tillman. “TCEQ needs to shut these compressors down immediately and until we can get emission controls that protect the residents living right up against this infrastructure.”
DISH’s study – performed by Wolf Eagle Environmental -- revealed benzene, a known carcinogen, at all seven sampling locations, with three samples exceeding the state’s limits. Other hazardous pollutants were also detected above regulatory limits. The Town – which commissioned the study after failed attempts to draw the attention of State regulators -- is now working to develop baseline data for community health impacts.

The Town of DISH serves as a warning for other communities dealing with the shale gas industry as it drills newly accessible deposits across the country, including Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Arkansas."Living with this type of infrastructure and development is difficult to imagine until it’s here. You can feel and hear the compressor engines roaring," says Kathy Chruscielski, a citizen activist with the Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project. "It's like living next to a 24 hour truck stop. Homeowners suddenly find themselves next door to an industrial zone with very little recourse at the federal and state levels."
In Horseheads, New York, Schlumberger – a $75 billion multinational energy company -- is proposing a 65-acre distribution and bulk chemical storage facility that will serve drilling and fracturing operations in the Marcellus Shale deposit.“Based on Horseheads’ welcome of Schlumberger, I don’t think the Village government really has thought about what’s coming,” says Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountainkeeper. “Experience like DISH’s and others warn of the too often negative consequences of shale infrastructure.”
National groups focused on gas policy reform say that fixes are needed at both the federal and state levels, and enforcement is critical. The FRAC Act, introduced in both Houses of Congress by members representing shale gas regions, would start this process by ending a Cheney-era loophole to the Safe Drinking Water Act and require full disclosure of all drilling toxics.
“We need to get the balance right,” says Gwen Lachelt, Director of EARTHWORKS’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project. “The drilling industry’s track record repeatedly demonstrates that current regulation is inadequate. Fortunately, shale drilling is in its early stages, so it’s not too late to learn from decades of hard-won experience in the Rocky Mountain gas patch and elsewhere. That experience shows there is no substitute for federal and state oversight and enforcement. We can start with passage of the FRAC Act.”In DISH, Mayor Tillman echoes the statement about getting it right with what he calls the precautionary tale of DISH’s mega gas complex.
“The companies behind the gas complex gave us a great sales pitch. But that’s all it was. Turns out we needed stronger rules to make them walk their talk.”###The Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project is a campaign of EARTHWORKS.Catskill Mountainkeeper is a community based advocacy organization, working for the protection of natural resources essential to healthy communities. They are based in the Catskill Mountains of NY which is on top of the Marcellus shale.EARTHWORKS is nonprofit public interest organization that works with communities to address the destructive impacts of mineral development, in the U.S. and worldwide. Earthworks’ has offices in Washington, DC, Colorado and Montana.
WFAA Live report

Contaminants in air around Texas gas town: study
Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:41pm EDT

By Ed Stoddard
DALLAS (Reuters) - High concentrations of harmful compounds have been found in the air in a north Texas town that is in the heart of the region's gas industry, according to a report released this month by an environmental consultancy.
The study by Wolf Eagle Environmental Engineers and Consultants found high concentrations of carcinogenic and neurotoxin compounds in the atmosphere at seven locations around the rural town of DISH, which is about 50 miles northwest of Dallas.
Carcinogens are linked to cancers while neurotoxins are toxins that act on nerve cells.
The report said the levels of several of the substances exceeded those that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) uses as benchmarks or triggers that could prompt it to investigate or take action.
The TCEQ is conducting its own studies in the area.
DISH is on the Barnett Shale, a large geological formation in north Texas that contains vast amounts of natural gas. In and around the town are pipelines, wells and several compressor stations owned by a number of energy companies including Chesapeake, Atmos and Crosstex.
The town hired the consultancy to do the study.
"The chemicals and concentrations that we found are consistent with other facilities that we have tested in and around the Barnett Shale. Many of these chemicals are related to the scenting process of natural gas because natural gas has no odor," said Alisa Rich, president of Wolf Eagle.
"I'm extremely confident that this is linked to the gas industry," she told Reuters in an interview. The data was collected over a 24-hour period in August.
She said the compressor stations were a special cause for concern because of the volumes of gas pumped through them.
"Atmos Energy does not believe that its operations in the DISH area make any significant contribution to the emissions of the chemicals listed in the Wolf Eagle Engineering study," Atmos said in response to an e-mail query from Reuters.
"Atmos Energy is aware that the TCEQ is planning additional emissions testing in this area in the near future and will cooperate fully with those efforts," it said.
Chesapeake and Crosstex declined to comment.
DISH's Mayor Calvin Tillman told Reuters he would like to see the compressor stations shut down "until we can know with confidence that they are not emitting these toxins."
The report is the latest to link environmental and health hazards with America's booming gas industry.

In August, U.S. government scientists announced that they had found for the first time found chemical contaminants in drinking water wells near natural gas drilling operations, fueling concern that a gas-extraction technique is endangering the health of people who live close to drilling rigs.

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