Recent revelations that Barnett Shale residents’ health at
risk prods TCEQ to adopt new oil & gas policy
EARTHWORKS * Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project * Town of DISH
DISH, Texas, 12/18 — In response to recently revealed health impacts in the DISH area, today, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) acknowledged the need for new protections for citizens living in and around the Barnett Shale gas deposit. TCEQ stated it is now issuing an important change in odor response procedures. New policies will require TCEQ to respond to odor complaints on the same day as the complaint, or within 12-hours from receiving a complaint. The new procedure will enable citizens to document both odor and health symptom information by affidavit. These changes represent an important step-forward for the local governments and citizens working to mitigate irresponsible shale gas drilling.
In recent months, a mega-complex of compressor stations, gas processing plant, metering stations and gas wells located in the community of DISH have become a lightening rod for regulators. After years of emission problems and inaction from regulators, local leader, Mayor Calvin Tillman commissioned an area-air study that revealed toxic emissions exceeding regulatory limits in DISH and residents and a former resident have reported significant health symptoms.
The TCEQ decision comes just days after a contentious public meeting in DISH, in which citizens and public interest groups voiced concerns to the TCEQ about public health, property values and pollution. It also comes on the heels of a community-based health study released yesterday by EARTHWOKRS and the Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project. The Town of DISH and the groups have been calling on state regulators to establish a same-day community odor and tracking system, quickly perform an in-depth health investigation, and implement continuous 24-hour emissions monitoring.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said Calvin Tillman, Mayor of DISH. . “Same-day response on odors will indeed help DISH residents on a daily basis. We can’t lose sight, however, that companies and regulators need to prevent pollution in the first place. I’m not going to be totally satisfied until the people of the Barnett Shale stop smelling these odors in the first place.” In the last month, Mayor Tillman sent a letter to area companies requesting that they cease their operations until they could operate without putting public health at risk.
“It’s important that we get a handle on health impacts and oil and gas development,” says Wilma Subra, author of the Earthworks’ health study. “Odors are only part of the overall emissions equation, but they are an important part because residents are smelling emissions and experiencing immediate health impacts that are obviously associated.”
“There is a long road ahead of us and broader action across multiple agencies is necessary to prevent pollution from shale gas development,” said Jennifer Goldman of EARTHWORKS Oil & Gas Accountability Project. “Ensuring same-day odor-response and tracking of associated health symptoms is critical, and it is indeed a victory for all residents living with the impacts of the Barnett Shale.”
— ENDS —
For More Information
Documents to be used by TCEQ staff to record odors and take necessary enforcement action:
- Nuisance affidavit
- Odor log
- TCEQ interoffice memorandum announcing the new complaint and investigation procedures for the Barnett Shale
Dec 17th press release announcing health survey results:
Health Survey Results:
Texas Oil & Gas Accountabilty Project (including links to and analysis of the Wolf Eagle study which caused the health survey to be done):
Town of DISH:
Denton Record Chronicle Article
A Victory for Barnett Shale Communities
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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Malulo Numero Uno says
sadly, I bet DISH is not a unique problem – just has a mayor that cares.
Yes Sir!! Dish is luck to have a mayor who cares, and a good one at that!! Dish is nothing like Booger County, where all officials are BBO's.
Tim Ruggiero says
This is an enormous leap in the right direction, and a long time coming. I like to think the well-intentioned but seriously naive TCEQ folks from Austin finally got the message of how serious this is when they got barbecued at the Dish Town Meeting just two weeks ago.
I for one, completely lost faith in the TCEQ and already gave up on the TRRC as both being nothing more than paper pushers who loved to study things, set up meetings, study some more, meet to decide when the next meeting was and generally do absolutely nothing of any measurable value.
We need to make this work, folks! If the TCEQ is going to respond same day or within 12 hours, then we need to BOMBARD them with complaints. I'm not suggesting anyone make things up or falsely report, I'm asking that you take advantage of what the TCEQ is offering, and get the word out, and get those issues rolling in to the TCEQ!
I am not an alarmist, but this couldn't be more serious- there lives at stake here, and the life you save may very well be your own- it will at least be your neighbor's! We are in this together, and we have to be, because no one else is going to help, and no one else cares!
Call in those complaints when the crap is above the limits for a nuisance as stated in the WCEQ guidelines. Call 'em in. Correctly of course. Call 'em in.
Jovan Gonzales says
That's great! What a great thing for DISH and hopefully Texas as well! Now, if only some laws can be established that punish the companies for polluting in the first place. I guess I'll just have to hold tight for the moment being!
Mike H. says
I also suspect there would be other places in Texas that would be beyond the air chemical limits in an unbiased test.
Also, how will this business about investigating odors reduce benzene & carbon disulphide all the time?
It's only a small step forward but it is progress.
Love your new pic! I guess you're home for Christmas. How did your finals go?
You're right! There are absolutely places all over Texas where this same thing is happening.
If we get this data, maybe we can pass a statewide rule. Unfortunately, we don't follow protect first or use prudence so it takes a ton of data to prove that industry is harming human health. That's so backward, eh?
Jovan Gonzales says
Well I'm assuming you weren't referencing mike or tim so thanks! I took that pic at the bass pro shop in Rockwall. So there's no actual need for it. Hahaha. Definitely home for Christmas and finals … Well … They sucked. Haha. It's okay though bc I got the grades I needed but not the ones I wanted. As looooong as I graduate I don't even care! Maybe I'll use my majors to work for the EPA which funnily is based out of Dallas (yet look at the progress on the Barnett Shale lol).
I love that I only have to look at your blog to get the most timely news lol.
Oh yeah! Go to work for EPA or, even better, TCEQ. We need so help in TX.