Monday, January 25, 2010

Officials release maps showing toxins in Dish travel over a mile

Peggy Heinkle-Wolfe reports that the town officials in Dish released maps showing the chemicals from gas drilling activity can travel over a mile.

Researchers plugged data from air samples gathered around Dish into a computer model to see how some of those emissions might disperse throughout the countryside over the course of a year.

The maps are part of the air quality study conducted in the town last year by a private company. This study found 16 toxins at high levels near the compression stations.

The gas drilling industry has a different set of rules than any other industry here in Texas for for receiving air quality permits. On top of that, we know they receive broad exemptions from Federal Environmental and Human Health Acts.

The model is very limited in scope, given the town’s tiny resources, but it does demonstrate problems with the state’s permitting system for oil and gas operations, according to Ramon Alvarez, a senior scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund who has research expertise in atmospheric and combustion processes.

Because natural gas operators are granted air quality permits by a different set of rules than other big industries, the kind of data the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, as well as the general public, would expect to get from any other company applying for an air permit simply isn’t available, Alvarez said.

The TCEQ will be setting up a permanent ambient air quality monitor in Dish.

No comments: