Benzene high at Bosque disposal wells

Williams Production Co. plans to construct a disposal well in Argyle in the Denton Creek flood plain with Bosque Disposal Systems as the operator. Residents are concerned about the potential for water contamination but Williams’ professional public relations employees continually downplay the risks. I can hardly wait to see the spin they apply to this news:

On page 58 of TCEQ’s recent air quality study benzene at a Bosque disposal well was detected at 1.1 ppbv which is 5 times the TCEQ normal background level, .2 ppbv.

Bosque Disposal Systems, LLC
During routine patrols with survey instrumentation on October 15, 2009, TCEQ staff detected moderate natural gas odors along Highway 171, approximately 2.5 miles north of FM 3450 (Site 76). Canister sample BSII0910-034 was collected at 11:53 and detected various pollutants including 1.1 ppbv of benzene.

But, that’s not all!

On page 67, the report indicates problems at another Bosque disposal well but for some mysterious reason no measurements were taken.

Bosque Disposal Systems
While patrolling with the GasFindIR camera in Johnson County along the Interstate Highway (IH) 35 West northbound access road on October 14, 2009, emissions were detected at the Bosque Disposal Systems wastewater disposal facility (Figure 83). The emissions were observed as condensate water waste was moved from trucks to the waste trough and eventually to the condensate tank area of the facility. Image BSF0910(10B), recorded from 11:33 – 11:35, from approximately 0.75 mile south of Pica Drive (Site 83) documented the emissions (Figure 84).

The Argyle disposal well will accept waste from a central collection facility in Flower Mound through a system of pipelines. The professional public relations people tell us there is no need for concern because these pipelines won’t leak. All pipelines leak.

This planned facility is in an unincorporated area without even the most basic regulations. Even if industry places all disposal wells, compressor stations and land farms in unincorporated areas of the Barnett Shale, the emissions and contaminated water won’t respect man-made boundary lines. We all share the same air and water and we’re all in this together.

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.


  1. Anonymous says

    Throughout history, there have been many inventions and discoveries that have been imperfect and caused accidents and damage in a limited way. But I've never seen anything like fracking, which is allowed to RISK THE AIR AND WATER WE ALL NEED TO EXIST! One day there will be laws against this and we will be amazed at how long our govt did nothing.

  2. funmaxus says

    Public Health Statement for Benzene (Benceno)
    ATSDR – Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry
    Department of Health and Human Services
    CAS#: 71-43-2
    August 2007
    PDF 7 pages:

    Toxicological Profile For Benzene
    U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services
    Public Health Service
    Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
    August 2007
    Pdf 438 pages:

  3. funmaxus says

    From Page 6,

    "The toxicological profiles are developed in response to the Superfund Amendments and
    Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986 (Public Law 99-499) which amended the Comprehensive
    Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA or Superfund). This
    public law directed ATSDR to prepare toxicological profiles for hazardous substances most commonly
    found at facilities on the CERCLA National Priorities List and that pose the most significant potential
    threat to human health, as determined by ATSDR and the EPA. The availability of the revised priority
    list of 275 hazardous substances was announced in the Federal Register on December 7, 2005 (70 FR
    72840). For prior versions of the list of substances, see Federal Register notices dated April 17, 1987
    (52 FR 12866); October 20, 1988 (53 FR 41280); October 26, 1989 (54 FR 43619); October 17, 1990 (55
    FR 42067); October 17, 1991 (56 FR 52166); October 28, 1992 (57 FR 48801); February 28, 1994 (59
    FR 9486); April 29, 1996 (61 FR 18744); November 17, 1997 (62 FR 61332); October 21, 1999 (64 FR
    56792); October 25, 2001 (66 FR 54014); and November 7, 2003 (68 FR 63098). Section 104(i)(3) of
    CERCLA, as amended, directs the Administrator of ATSDR to prepare a toxicological profile for each
    substance on the list."

  4. funmaxus says

    Benzene facts from ATSDR:

    Benzene – Benzene has been found in at least 1,000 of the 1,684 current or former NPL sites. Most people can begin to smell benzene in air at approximately 60 parts of benzene per million parts of air (ppm)and recognize it as benzene at 100 ppm. Most people can begin to taste benzene in water at 0.5–4.5 ppm. One part per million is approximately equal to one drop in 40 gallons.

    Brief exposure (5–10 minutes) to very high levels of benzene in air (10,000–20,000 ppm) can result in death. Lower levels (700–3,000 ppm) can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate,headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. In most cases, people will stop feeling these effects when they are no longer exposed and begin to breathe fresh air.

    EPA has set 5 ppb as the maximum permissible level of benzene in drinking water. EPA has set a goal of 0 ppb for benzene in drinking water and in water such as rivers and lakes because benzene can cause leukemia. EPA estimates that 10 ppb benzene in drinking water that is consumed regularly or exposure to 0.4 ppb in air over a lifetime could cause a risk of one additional cancer case for every 100,000 exposed persons. EPA recommends 200 ppb as the maximum permissible level of benzene in water for short-term exposures (10 days) for children.

    EPA requires that the National Response Center be notified following a discharge or spill into the environment of 10 pounds or more of benzene.

    OSHA regulates levels of benzene in the workplace. The maximum allowable amount of benzene in workroom air during an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek is 1 ppm. Because benzene can cause cancer, NIOSH recommends that all workers wear special breathing equipment when they are likely to be exposed to benzene at levels exceeding the recommended (8-hour) exposure limit of 0.1 ppm.

    Inhalation MRLs
    • An MRL of 0.009 ppm has been derived for acute-duration inhalation exposure (14 days or less)
    to benzene.

    • An MRL of 0.006 ppm has been derived for intermediate-duration inhalation exposure (15–
    364 days) to benzene.

    • An MRL of 0.003 ppm has been derived for chronic-duration inhalation exposure (365 days or
    more) to benzene.

    Oral MRLs
    No acute-duration oral MRL was derived due to a lack of appropriate data on the effects of acute oral
    exposure to benzene

    • An MRL of 0.0005 mg/kg/day has been derived for chronic-duration oral exposure (365 days or
    more) to benzene.

    A complete chart showing applicable measurements is available on page 328 of pdf or 308 of document.

  5. funmaxus says

    Health Highlights from the ATSDR Report (I've tried to summarize it believe it or not)…
    Eating foods or drinking liquids containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, rapid heart rate, coma, and death. The health effects that may result from eating foods or drinking liquids containing lower levels of benzene are not known. If you spill benzene on your skin, it may cause redness and sores. Benzene in your eyes may cause general irritation and damage to your cornea. Benzene causes problems in the blood. People who breathe benzene for long periods may experience harmful effects in the tissues that form blood cells, especially the bone marrow. These effects can disrupt normal blood production and cause a decrease in important blood components. A decrease in red blood cells can lead to anemia. Reduction in other components in the blood can cause excessive bleeding. Blood production may return to normal after exposure to benzene stops. Excessive exposure to benzene can be harmful to the immune Long-term exposure to benzene can cause cancer of the blood-forming organs. This condition is called leukemia. Exposure to benzene has been associated with development of a particular type of leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that benzene is a known carcinogen (can cause cancer). Both the International Agency for Cancer Research and the EPA have determined that benzene is carcinogenic to humans.
    Exposure to benzene may be harmful to the reproductive organs. Some women workers who breathed high levels of benzene for many months had irregular menstrual periods. When examined, these women showed a decrease in the size of their ovaries.
    We do not know what human health effects might occur after long-term exposure to food and water contaminated with benzene. In animals, exposure to food or water contaminated with benzene can damage the blood and the immune system and can cause cancer.
    Children can be affected by benzene exposure in the same ways as adults. Benzene can pass from the mother’s blood to a fetus. It is not known if children are more susceptible to benzene poisoning than adults.
    In vivo and in vitro data from both humans and animals indicate that benzene and/or its metabolites are genotoxic. Chromosomal aberrations (hypo- and hyperdiploidy, deletions, breaks, and gaps) in peripheral lymphocytes and bone marrow cells are the predominant effects seen in humans. Damage to both the humoral and cellular components of the immune system has been known to occur in humans following inhalation exposure. This is manifested by decreased levels of antibodies and decreased levels of leukocytes in workers. Animal data support these findings.
    The most characteristic systemic effect resulting from intermediate and chronic benzene exposure is arrested development of blood cells. Early biomarkers of exposure to relatively low levels of benzene include depressed numbers of one or more of the circulating blood cell types. A common clinical finding in benzene hematotoxicity is cytopenia, which is a decrease in various cellular elements of the circulating blood manifested as anemia, leukopenia, or thrombocytopenia in humans and in animals. Benzeneassociated cytopenias vary and may involve a reduction in one (unicellular cytopenias) to all three (pancytopenia) cellular elements of the blood.

    Benzene also causes a life-threatening disorder called aplastic anemia in humans and animals. This disorder is characterized by reduction of all cellular elements in the peripheral blood and in bone marrow, leading to fibrosis, an irreversible replacement of bone marrow. Benzene has also been associated with acute non-lymphocytic leukemia in humans, and aplastic anemia may be an early indicator of developing acute non-lymphocytic leukemia in some cases.

  6. funmaxus says

    Continued: (Just 2 more posts)
    Limited information is available on other systemic effects reported in humans and is associated with high–level benzene exposure. Respiratory effects have been noted after acute exposure of humans to benzene vapors. Cardiovascular effects, particularly ventricular fibrillation, have been suggested as the cause of death in fatal exposures to benzene vapor. Gastrointestinal effects have been noted in humans after fatal inhalation exposure (congestive gastritis), and ingestion (toxic gastritis and pyloric stenosis), of benzene. Myelofibrosis (a form of aplastic anemia) was reported by a gasoline station attendant who had been exposed to benzene by inhalation, and probably also through dermal contact. Myalgia was also reported in steel plant workers exposed to benzene vapors. Reports of renal effects in humans after benzene exposure consist of kidney congestion after fatal inhalation exposure. Dermal and ocular effects including skin irritation and burns, and eye irritation have been reported after exposure to benzene vapors.
    Swelling and edema have been reported to occur in a human who swallowed benzene. Studies in animals show systemic effects after inhalation exposure, including cardiovascular effects. Oral administration of benzene to animals has yielded information concerning hepatic effects. A study conducted in rabbits lends support to the finding that benzene is irritating and damaging to the skin and also shows that it is irritating and damaging to the eyes following dermal or ocular application.
    Pancytopenia is the reduction in the number of all three major types of blood cells: erythrocytes (red blood cells), thrombocytes (platelets), and leukocytes (white blood cells). In adults, all three major types of blood cells are produced in the red bone marrow of the vertebrae, sternum, ribs, and pelvis. The red bone marrow contains immature cells, known as multipotent myeloid stem cells, that later differentiate into the various mature blood cells. Pancytopenia results from a reduction in the ability of the red bone marrow to produce adequate numbers of these mature blood cells.
    Aplastic anemia is a more severe effect of benzene and occurs when the bone marrow ceases to function and the stem cells never reach maturity. Depression in bone marrow function occurs in two stages—hyperplasia (increased synthesis of blood cell elements), followed by hypoplasia (decreased synthesis). As the disease progresses, bone marrow function decreases and the bone marrow becomes necrotic and filled with fatty tissue. This myeloblastic dysplasia without acute leukemia has been seen in persons exposed to benzene (Erf and Rhoads 1939). Aplastic anemia can progress to a type of leukemia known as acute myelogenous leukemia (Aksoy 1980), which is discussed in Section
    Individuals with medical conditions that include reduced bone marrow function or decreased blood factors would be at increased risk for benzene toxicity. Treatments for certain medical conditions might
    result in decreases in particular blood factors, which could lead to increased susceptibility to benzene poisoning.
    The enhancement of the hematotoxic effects of benzene by ethanol is of particular concern for benzene-exposed workers who consume alcohol (Nakajima et al.1985). Accordingly, increased central nervous system disturbances (e.g., depression) may be expected following concurrent exposure to benzene and ethanol.

    Gender-related differences in susceptibility to benzene toxicity have been observed in animals. For example, Kenyon et al. (1998) exposed male and female mice to benzene vapor concentrations of 100 or 600 ppm and found increased benzene metabolism and associated genotoxicity in males, relative to females.

  7. funmaxus says

    …And finally:

    Inhalation exposure of mice has yielded identifiable benzene-derived hemoglobin adducts (Sabourin et al. 1990). Ward et al. (1992) have shown that intermediate-duration exposure of mice to benzene by inhalation at levels below the current PEL may induce gene mutations in the lymphocytes.
    There is good evidence that benzene affects cell cycle progression,RNA and DNA synthesis, as well as DNA binding
    The federal government develops regulations and recommendations to protect public health. Regulations can be enforced by law. The EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are some federal agencies that develop regulations for toxic substances. Recommendations provide valuable guidelines to protect public health, but cannot be enforced by law. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are two federal organizations that develop recommendations for toxic substances
    IS THERE A MEDICAL TEST TO DETERMINE WHETHER I HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO BENZENE? Several tests can show whether you have been exposed to benzene. Some of these tests may be available at your doctor's office. All of these tests are limited in what they can tell you. The test for measuring benzene in your breath must be done shortly after exposure. This test is not very helpful for detecting very low levels of benzene in your body. Benzene can be measured in your blood. However, because benzene rapidly disappears in the blood, measurements may be useful only for recent exposures.

  8. Anonymous says

    The RRC would like you to believe that all of the hazardous emissions from Barnet Shale Gas operations are a result of some sort of issue such as an open hatch or faulty seal. Unfortunately, much of the emissions are coming from vents, stacks, and flares that are actually designed to emit VOCs. Don't ask whether or not it has been inspected and fixed, instead inquire about why the facilities are actually designed to emit.

  9. Anonymous says

    Well, that last comment about "designed to emit" was certainly informative. Glad I read the comment section!

  10. funmaxus says

    If some slick talker tries to tell you that they are doing their part to clean things up because they use the "CleanStreamSM Service" know that it refers to bacterial only. It is my understanding that UV helps to eliminate harmful bacterial organisms, but does nothing to eliminate potentially toxic chemicals…

    CleanStreamSM Service – Ultraviolet Light Bacteria Control Process for Fracturing Fluid
    Enhances Environmental Performance by Reducing the Volume of Conventional Biocides Required
    CleanStreamSM service, Halliburton’s ultraviolet (UV) light bacteria control process, uses a mobile unit capable of treating
    fracturing Iuid at rates up to 100 bbl/min.