City reports toxic results of study of natural gas complex
Study serves as warning to communities wrestling with shale gas infrastructure across nation
DISH mayor calls for facility shutdown until emissions controlled
Embargoed for release until: October 13, 2009
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.