Thursday, Januray 29, 2015, the EPA held a hearing in Arlington, Texas, on the proposed ozone standard. Here are my video comments:

Wednesday night I heard there was a complaint made to the TCEQ due to a horrible odor in Mansfield’s Woodland Estates neighborhood so I took Earthworks’ FLIR GF 320 camera along with me just in case the citizens there needed some empowerment to prove industry is polluting their air.

After making my comments to the EPA, Lance Irwin picked me up and off we went to investigate. The minute we stepped out of the car, we were struck with the unmistakable odor of hydrocarbon fumes. The FLIR camera revealed a substantial release that turned out to be an emergency blowdown. My throat started to swell and burn. We made a complaint to the TCEQ and submitted the video below as part of the complaint.

The official story from the Summit compressor operator is a familiar one to Barnett Shale residents and goes something like this: a spring broke and there was nothing but pure gas that went straight up into heaven and would cause zero problems. But, we disproved the “straight up into heaven” story long ago. As anyone can see from the video, the plume of hydrocarbon fumes is traveling out across the city and all the way past the nearby school. Additionally, “pure gas” is methane which has no odor. A release of this much methane–even pure methane, which this was not–is a great concern because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that is 86 times more potent than CO2 on a 10-year time frame.

In case you are thinking that the TCEQ will surely do something about this, the last I heard, the TCEQ has not responded to the complaints. You are on your own, people!

This is why it is vital that municipalities retain local control of oil and gas development so they can protect the health and safety of their citizens. Clearly we cannot depend on the state regulators for that protection.

If Representative Phil King gets his way, cities will have no control of anything, not even leash laws or dog poop! He has authored two bills, HB 539 and HB 540, designed to make it almost impossible for cities to have any local control.

Mansfield is in the process of trying to beef up their drilling ordinances. Julie Dermansky has a detailed account of that process with pictures on DeSmogBlog.

At the most recent council meeting in Mansfield, Irwin spoke about the danger of just the type of event we witnessed.

I want to bring attention to the council that a very important component of Edge’s application plans for Debbie Lane lease design has been omitted :

1. The current schematic has omitted the required blow down stack for the compressor station

Where is going to be located? Previous 2008 engineering plans disguised it as a water tower. The current plan has eliminated it all together.

Why this is important? It is required as a protective mechanism for compressor stations and is one of the largest single emissions source at a compressor station.

2. What is its function?

They are a safety mechanism that releases a mixture of existing material (methane, gas , Ethane , Benzene, etc) from the piping/pipeline through a valve as a gas plume that can project upwards to 30­60 meters in the air and last for 3 minutes to several hours depending upon the event that caused the release. One blowdown can emit 15MCF of gas on the average.

Events that cause a blowdown are either through:

a. Scheduled maintenance event:

b. Unscheduled (accidential) event:

3. Associated Health Risks:

An exposure to a blowdown would have different health implications than a long­term lower level exposure (ie, yearly average) to the same contaminant when the compressor is online

a). For example:

Next, a range of concentrated emissions can vary by wind , but how far downwind, more than 300­400 feet?

I would not want my grandparent in the Assisted living 700 ft away or my child at Walnut Creek private school on the other side when it happens.

­Electrification doesn’t nullify threat of blowdown

4. Regulations and safety considerations

Due to the unpredictability of a blowdown, reconsider building any walk way close by that may physically put a citizen in the path of the blowdown stack

All that I have mentioned is why we need longer setbacks, closed loop systems, accident prevention, 24/7 infrared camera surveillance, baseline air monitoring and especially at this site 24/7 air monitoring. TCEQ runs on office hours and are always late to respond , A 3 hour blowdown would never see a TCEQ investigator in time .

Hundreds of elderly residents 700 ft from this event are 24/ 7 residents . Schools need to be notified immediately if there is a large spike ­ just last year a young girl died from an asthma attack at the school across the street . The elderly and the school kids did not sign waivers ­ they deserve to be better protected.

Irwin seems to be a profit prophet. (Freudian?)

If you watch the very end of the video, you will see why monitors often do not work. The plume is very skinny initially and it can bypass the monitor entirely.

Monitors are not prevention any more than mammograms. The best way to prevent this kind of exposure, it to keep these heavy industrial facilities out of neighborhoods. Or better yet: see The Solutions Project. Please file this under DUH!

RELEASE

Earthworks Citizen Empowerment Project

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Eagle Ford Shale M3.0 earthquake

by TXsharon on January 31, 2015

in Eagle Ford Shale, earthquakes

There was a M3.0 earthquake in the Eagle Ford Shale yesterday 14 miles west of Karnes City. This is what the area looks like on Google Maps.

EagleFord-3.0Scientists say the geology in the Eagle Ford Shale is complex and seismic activity there is associated with injection and extraction. (See Subsidence)

Here is the Event Page

 

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Fracking and Texas earthquakes

by TXsharon on January 19, 2015

in earthquakes

“The way we describe earthquakes is a bit like an epidemic,” said Ellsworth. “One earthquake has the potential to trigger others.” Source

TexasTop10Texas ranked 8th in 2013 in the top ten states for earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or grater.

Texas had 16 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater, ranking it eighth for 2013. In 2009, it had two quakes of that strength. There have been many more quakes than that around Azle, Texas, but most were below magnitude 3.0. SourceEE News

Prior to the fracking boom, Texas was one of the least likely places in the United States for earthquakes.

Man-made earthquakes are nothing new.

We have known since 1870, that man’s actions can cause earthquakes. We have known since the  1960s that injection can cause man-made earthquakes.  Extraction of hydrocarbons also causes earthquakes.

The Dallas Morning News reported…

Man-made quakes are something new

…but that is not true. What is new is the frequency of these man-made earthquakes and the “remarkable increase” in man-made earthquakes coincides directly with the fracking boom according to a USGS team.

It should not be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention that Texas has become a top earthquake producer because Texas is the top oil and gas producer. Earthquakes follow oil and gas production.

In 2000, Schlumberger, the biggest fracker, published a report  titled Seismicity in the Oil Field. Here is a bit from that report

If the stress change is big enough, it can cause an earthquake, either by fracturing the rock mass—in the case of mining or underground explosions—or by causing rock to slip along existing zones of weakness. The situation in regions of hydrocarbon recovery is not always well understood: in some places, extraction of fluid induces seismicity; in others, injection induces seismicity. In many areas where the rock is not under large tectonic stresses, the seismic energy released during induced events is low—typically of magnitude 0 to 3—and not even felt on the earth’s surface. However, if the rock mass is already under large tectonic stresses, the energy added by man’s endeavors can have a destabilizing influence. Even minor actions can trigger strong seismicity.
[…]
Some 40 examples are known in which reservoir production caused significant changes in the seismic activity of a neighboring region.

I highlighted underground explosions because most people don’t realize it but fracking requires underground explosions. They have to blow holes in the drill pipe and shatter the shale before they can frack and that takes explosives, which they haul through our streets. You can watch a 2 minute movie about perferation HERE and read a list of what might be in a perf gun (11 pages of skull and crossbones)

Recap: Injection, extraction and underground explosions all can cause earthquakes. We’ve known this for a long, long time.

Injection

There may be many kinds of injection but I’m going to talk about these three kinds:

  • Fracking injection – one well requires millions of gallons of water, thousands of tons of sand and thousands a gallons of chemicals all injected under very high pressure, 5,000 to 8,000 pounds-per-square-inch (PSI).
  • Waste disposal injection – one disposal well injects under lesser pressure the massive amounts of waste fluids the from many fracked wells.
  • Enhanced recovery injection – this kind of injection has been linked to earthquakes but I know less about it than the other kinds.  Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) is used to create pressure in a formation

As I’ve said before: Industry has done such a splendid job of propaganda that the media and public believe the only injection that causes earthquakes is waste injection. If you understand the fracking process and think logically about it, you will see that we are redistributing massive amounts of liquids and solids and causing imbalances. See these diagrams drawn by a petroleum engineer. Diagram.

Hydraulic fracturing is injection and hydraulic fracturing has caused earthquakes (see a list here). But industry tries to deny any involvement. It’s the fracking industry’s Deadbeat Dad Problem.

Who’s your fracking daddy?The oil and gas industry has narrowly defined fracking to mean only the moment they inject their fluids into the hole and fracking is over when they pull out. They are trying to dodge responsibility for the whole realm of descendant problems their actions create.

The industry is like deadbeat dads who, in this case, inject toxic fluids into a hole in the ground and walk away from responsibility for the consequences.

The public ends up paying while industry walks away with their profit.

Here’s an example where fracking’s Joe Camel is harassing a journalist for an article about fracking earthquakes:

I’ve written a great deal about earthquakes for a long time. But, as fracking expands and the “remarkable increase” in man-made earthquakes continues, new people become interested. So I guess I’ll have to keep writing about earthquakes for no telling how much longer.

Please see: Dear Irving… for some frightening facts about man-made earthquakes and this post for some updated news.

Update: The epidemic continues with 4 earthquakes (so far) today. See the list of reported earthquakes on this post.

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Yesterday, Flower Mound residents were reporting burning eyes, headaches, sore throats and bloody noses and, according to hearsay, one medical professional said these recent complaints were in record breaking numbers. So I decided to see what I could see with the FLIR GF 320 camera.

It’s no wonder Flower Mound residents are complaining. I started complaining about 30 minutes after arrival and stopped complaining about 30 minutes after leaving. Everywhere is a gas well pad site and as production dwindles, lift compressors are added to the equipment on each site. These compressors are permitted as a separate source of pollution–an additional 25 tons of volatile organic compounds per year.

First I took video at the Hilliard Unit which is very close to two schools and is surrounded by very lovely homes. I couldn’t get close to this facility but was still able to pick up emissions.

Next was the infamous Bunn Unit. This is another facility that is way too close to a school and neighborhoods.

Next was the Sam Wilson facility on Scenic Dr. We saw the craziest thing here. From the piece of equipment in the photo below, that looks like some kind of incendiary device, we saw wet looking vapors shooting up about 15′ high. I got out of the vehicle as fast as I could but not fast enough to capture it on video. Whatever it was stank horribly and made my throat swell.

spurting stack

The Sam Wilson Unit and Compressor Station is another infamous facility that never fails to preform.

Previously from this facility:
Catastrophic” emissions at Williams Barnett Shale facility in Flower Mound
This same facility had the huge methane plume when Piccaro did the Methane Mapping.

And then the Bob Smith. If I remember correctly, “Shiloh Chris” lives nearby.

And last, but not least, is the Cummings Unit, the site of frequent spills, that is tragically near a Montessori School

You might have thought that Flower Mound’s fracking problems were all over because of their 1500′ setback. No so, apparently.

Update: Let me add that I am a certified Optical Gas Imaging Thermographer. I have the same certification the TCEQ and industry has and I was certified by the same instructor who certifies them.  So I always get a kick out of it when good-old-boys say the FLIR GF 320 camera is only picking up heat.

This was sent to me via text. It’s probably from the Flower Mound Cares Facebook page <-shudder->. The FLIR GF 320 camera does detect heat but it does not detect hot air as THIS VIDEO shows. The plume that you see trailing off in the videos is VOCs.

Thanks Michael.

FB

Gases Detected and Minimum Detected leak rate (MDLR)

Independent laboratory (third party) testing confirms that the GasFindIR cameras can see the following gases at the minimum detected leak rate (MDLR):

  • 1-Pentene – 5.6g/hr
  • Benzene – 3.5g/hr
  • Butane -0.4g/hr
  • Ethane – 0.6g/hr
  • Ethanol – 0.7g/hr
  • Ethylbenzene – 1.5g/hr
  • Ethylene – 4.4g/hr
  • Heptane – 1.8g/hr
  • Hexane – 1.7g/hr
  • Isoprene – 8.1g/hr
  • MEK – 3.5g/hr
  • Methane – 0.8g/hr
  • Methanol – 3.8g/hr
  • MIBK – 2.1g/hr
  • Octane – 1.2g/hr
  • Pentane – 3.0g/hr
  • Propane – 0.4g/hr
  • Propylene – 2.9g/hr
  • Toluene – 3.8g/hr
  • Xylene – 1.9g/hr

And just to be clear: The spurting fountain of likely toxic air pollution is a concern but the ongoing emissions from the compressor station and lift compressors are, IMO, a larger concern.

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URGENT: EPA Hearing on New Ozone Standard

by TXsharon on January 14, 2015

in Air pollution

Sign up! Speak up! Or hold your breath!

  • Our air is too polluted.
  • It is unhealthy for all of us, but especially kids, seniors and people with chronic diseases like asthma.
  • The science clearly shows that the standard must be strengthened to protect Americans’ health, and the Clean Air Act requires the standards be set to ensure that health is protected.
  • The science is irrefutable.
  • Americans have a right to know when the air we breathe is dangerous to our health.
  • Big Polluters and their allies don’t believe you have the right to know when the air you breathe is dangerous.
  • According to the EPA, a 60 ppb standard would prevent roughly 1.8 million asthmaattacks, 1.9 million missed school days, 6,400 premature deaths.

This is your chance. This is your only chance.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold three public hearings on the proposed updates to the national air quality standards for ground-level ozone, also known as smog. EPA has proposed to strengthen the standards to a level within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comment on a level down to 60 ppb. The agency estimates that the benefits of meeting the proposed standards will significantly outweigh the costs, preventing asthma attacks, heart attacks, missed school days and premature deaths, among other health effects.

WHEN: Thursday, Jan 29, 9 am-7:30 pm

WHERE: Arlington Council Chambers,

Arlington City Hall
101 W. Abram Street
Arlington, Texas, 76010

EPA will hold public hearings on proposed updates to the national air quality standards re: smog. EPA has proposed to strengthen the standards to a level within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comment on a level down to 60 ppb. The EPA sees the health benefits of meeting the proposed standards will significantly outweigh the costs, preventing asthma attacks, heart attacks, missed school days and premature deaths.

Sign up NOW.

Contact Shepherd.Eloise@epa.gov for a time slot or call 919.541.5507 (Email works better).

More information on the proposal and instructions for submitting written comments: http://www.epa.gov/glo/actions.html

DallasSmog

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Comments to Denton City Council on Gas Well Ordinance

January 13, 2015

The City of Denton is working on updating their drilling ordinance. I’ve sent them comments via email but tonight I made comments at the public meeting. Here’s what I had to say minus the ad lib. Sharon Wilson Allen, TX 75002 Require electric motors on rigs and line compressors to prevent ongoing pollution like this. […]

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Yes, fracking is a dangerous job. Duh.

January 12, 2015

I wish I had time to respond to all the misleading “information” put out by the fracking Joe Camels. But I don’t have that kind of time. I do feel compelled to respond to this question posed on Twitter last week: Is #fracking dangerous? The injury rate for the oil and gas industry is 60% […]

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BREAKING: Texas Railroad Commission to start naming DFW earthquakes

January 7, 2015

The Texas Railroad Commission has just announced they will start naming DFW earthquakes. The Commission will follow the A to Z system used by the National Hurricane Center to name tropical storms. This morning Irving residents experienced Earthquake Anadarko. The tentative list for 2015: Anadarko BP Chesapeake Devon ExxonMobil Frontier Gasprom Halliburton Marathon Occidental Petrochina […]

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Updated: M3.5 North Texas earthquake in Irving today and other frackquake news

January 6, 2015

The earthquake in Irving this morning was M3.5 and I’m sure that left some cracks in concrete and masonry. Check your foundations and walls, people. Take pictures and document the condition. See the Event Page and please make a report if you felt it. Also in recent frackquake news, seismologists announced that the massive spike […]

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2 more Texas earthquakes

January 2, 2015

A second New Year’s earthquake happened in West Texas in the Snyder area. M2.8 Event Page And another earthquake in the Irving area.  M2.4 Event Page As always, check your foundations and continually document the condition of the structure of your home.  

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2014 fracking review

December 31, 2014

I didn’t do one of these last year but there is one from 2012. I started not to do it this year but then I went through my 2014 mileage and my expense reports and I was amazed at everywhere I’ve been and all that has happened. I haven’t kept track of all the important […]

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