Railroad commission closes investigation despite scientific evidence of benzene
Jay Marcom’s land, about 1,500 acres in SE Stephens and NE Eastland Counties, had a bare spot where nothing would grow and he noticed “yellowish liquid” oozing (ew) out of the ground. He also said he could smell gas and there just happened to be a gas pipeline near.
Using a plastic glove, Marcom got a handful of mud from the site. Mitch Oekerman, a field inspector for the Texas Railroad Commission, smelled the substance in the bag and said it smelled like soil. He said he didn’t detect benzene and pronounced the case closed as far as the Texas Railroad Commission is concerned. NOTE: That would be the very same Texas Railroad Commission that is supposed to protect the people from abuses by the oil and gas industry.
Dennis Yavorsky, a scientists who works for PID Analyzers in Ohio and has been using analyzing equipment for 30 years must have a more sensitive snoz than Oekerman because here’s what he said:
“It would be nearly impossible not to smell it,” Yavorsky said. “You have soil that is essentially saturated with benzene.”
Yavorsky tested the soil and found that it had 4,000 to 5,000 times the legal limit of benzene.
Here’s how it’s supposed to work: The RRC investigates spills/pollution and makes the operators clean it up.
Here’s how it really works: The RRC operates as the paid protectors for the oil and gas industry at the expense of the citizens whose taxes pay the RRC employee’s salaries. Bizarro World!
The five companies that own the pipelines and compressors are:
Pryor Petroleum Company
Ranger Gas Gathering
Looks like they get a pass even though, according to Yavorski the technology exists to clean up Marcom’s land.
The moral of this story in Bizarro World:
- The RRC should hire inspectors with more sensitive noses.
- It’s Marcom’s fault because he should have bought land somewhere else then this would never have happened.
The moral of this story in my world:
- Elect Dale Henry for RRC. He has a record of fighting for ordinary Texans.
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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Benzene contamination killed my sister…the owner of the property should make the RR buy the land and move far away NOW. It takes 10-35 years for cancer to ‘show’ up from Benzene contamination.
It was 14 years for my sister.
That inspector should be fired. The human nose is not capable of chemical analysis of the level needed.
I suppose it would be naive to think that they could ever actually have a mobile analysis lab.