The news about the Denton blowout is worse than you think.


ethel-merman-collectionSomething terrifying is buried in today’s Denton Record Chronicle article, Few answers in April gas well blowout. I’m going to bury it here too so you will need to keep reading. But here’s a hint: Sounds like 1st ———>

Three months ago there was a blowout during completion of a well in Denton, Texas. (See scary VIDEO) I wish I could say that this post will answer the questions about what happened but I can’t. The answer to that question is being held until it’s certain that no one is paying attention any longer or until EagleRidge finishes converting all the old, vertical wells to horizonals.

Three months prior to today, the City of Denton played a game of Sesame Street, we watched a home video,  and we played the popular games Name the Fracking Accident and Scrubba Dub Dub while watching an episode of Father Knows Best during an email leak. Now we have a timeline of events that should be read while listening to this music.

  • 1:30 am – The EagleRidge crew lost control of the well or a blowout happened.
  • Time unknown – The EagleRidge crew left the scene and cowered down the road in safety failing to notify the nearby residents.
  • 3:00 am – The noise wakes neighbor, Pam Brewer.
  • 5:30 am – The EagleRidge crew called Fort Worth-based Cudd Well Control.
  • 10:30 am – The EagleRidge crew called the Texas Railroad Commission.
  • 10:45 am – The EagleRidge crew called the city fire inspector.
  • 11:00 am – Denton Fire & Police Departments arrive.
  • Sometime in here the residents are finally told to evacuate.
  • 11:30 am – Fort Worth-based Cudd Well Control arrives on scene.
  • 3:21 pm – The TCEQ takes 30 minute downwind air sample. Note: the well was capped 9 minutes into this sampling.
  • 3:30 pm – The well is capped.
  • 4:11 pm – The TCEQ takes 30 minute upwind air sample. Note: the event is over when this sampling takes place.

As usual the TCEQ showed up late. But still, they trapped 46 of the 84 hazardous air pollutants they tested for.

The downwind sample detected 46 of the 84 hazardous air pollutants tested for, including benzene and ethylene dibromide, or EDB. Upwind, the sample detected 27 of 84 chemicals. Neither benzene nor EDB was detected upwind, state records showed.

Both benzene and EDB have been found to cause cancer, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Denton, you have been co-exposed again and, remember I told you recently about this: Study: Co-exposures of two chemicals at safe levels doubles chances of cancer.

ETHYLene dibromide? Where have you heard that before?

Ethylene dibromide is a highly carcinogenic chemical that has been BANNED by the EPA for most uses but it keeps turning up in the shale play areas in Texas, especially in Denton.



Barnett Shale: Tests Find Banned Carcinogen in Air Near Fracking Sites


Tests Find Banned Carcinogen in Air Near Fracking Sites

Despite Admission by Drilling Company, Texas Regulators Refuse to Act

DENTON, TX, Aug. 23 – State air tests in two communities in the Barnett Shale gas patch found strong evidence that a cancer-causing chemical — banned for most uses for more than 25 years — was used in hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells, according to a newspaper investigation. But despite the test results and the drilling company’s admission that it used a banned biocide, state regulators have recanted their own findings and refuse to take action.

The Denton Record-Chronicle reported Sunday that air tests by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) found levels of 1,2-dibromoethane, or EDB, at least six times since December 2010 near natural gas facilities in the towns of Argyle and Bartonville. EDB, formerly used as a fumigant pesticide, was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1983 for all but minor uses after it was found to cause cancer and reproductive damage. Four of the six detections were over TCEQ’s safe level for long-term exposure.

Community residents say they are sure the chemical came from natural gas operations because they took their own baseline samples of the air, water and soil before wells were drilled and found no EDB. Last December, a representative of the company operating three of the sites, Gulftex Operating Inc. of Dallas, told the Bartonville Town Council they had discovered they were using a “biocide that was . . . banned in commercial uses” and would find an alternative, according to an audio recording of the meeting by the Argyle-Bartonville Community Alliance.

In response to complaints by the Alliance, TCEQ officials at first said there was nothing they could do because they believed the chemical came from historical use of EDB before the wells were drilled. Then, two days before the newspaper prepared to publish its investigation, TCEQ backed off from its own air tests, saying they couldn’t be sure they had found any EDB in the air. An agency spokesman said the results “may be due to the sampling and analytical procedure itself instead of actually being present in the ambient air.”

“So their scientific testing is not very scientific?” asked Susan Knoll, a member of the community alliance. “If what they’re doing is not accurate, then who in tarnation is supposed to protect us from what’s happening in our community?” Detailed data from tests by the state and the alliance are on the alliance’s website, and the group has appealed to the EPA for a federal investigation.

Sharon Wilson, an organizer with Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project, which works closely with the alliance, said the incident is another example of state regulators’ inaction in the face of evidence of health risks of fracking.

“It looks like the TCEQ is trying to preempt a scandal by pretending it never happened,” said Wilson. “Or else, they are admitting their science is unsound and we really don’t know what’s in the air we are breathing in the Barnett Shale. This is a scandal, plain and simple. If TCEQ can’t clean up their act, then we need a new sheriff in town.’

# # #

EDB is a biocide. In the Argyle and Bartonville Communities, it was detected above safe levels. Extensive baseline testing in Argyle and Bartonville detected no EDB in air, water of soil so it’s not coming from historical contamination. I’m going to bet that it’s being used in fracking fluid.

There are many opportunities in Denton right now and upcoming for further air sampling.

EagleRidge believes they own Denton and, as the DRC article shows, they break rules. I warned you they would strike again and they are. Thursday I met a friend for lunch at Denton’s new restaurant The Bowlery. After lunch I took a drive and a few pictures. It wasn’t long before I felt that familiar tightness in my throat. It subsided when I left the Denton drilling area.








No one is coming to save you Denton. You will have to save yourselves.

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. says

    Where would they purchase EDB Sharon? If something is banned except for certain use don’t the people selling it have to have verification regarding the purpose when they sell it? People can’t purchase certain pesticides any longer for lawn application so are the drillers breaking the law by purchasing illegally and using illegally? Damn that is shocking!
    Yes, we live about 1/4 mile northeast from the drilling site you pictured and we knew something was going on when the same old familiar headaches and sore throat returned. My husband and I both had the exact same symptoms when they drilled the Razyor Ranch site 1500 ft from our home.
    Much thanks to you and Peggy for keeping this problem in the public spotlight and not hidden like the Industry and City of Denton official would prefer.

    • says

      Well, it’s not like they are going to tell me where they get it. I’m guessing that some chemical supplier in Texas has some left over or something like that. A big environmental outfit was looking at the chemicals showing up and noticed that EDB shows up in Texas on the shale plays. So they are getting it somewhere.

      We laid all this out for the TCEQ but they ignored it which is par. Anything goes in Texas.

      Like I said, when I drove out around the airport I quickly got a sore throat but it went away when I was driving home.

    • GhostBlogger says

      This company would likely not have an MSDS for EDB, if they didn’t sell it:

      I see at least one other company sells it, after a very quick web search. It’s also often compounded with other chemicals:

      Note that if you click the individual brand names on that list, you will see some of those compounds with 99.99% EDB are EPA listed as unrestricted use.

      So much for the EPA being too restrictive on business!

  2. Jana says

    Look at the West explosion and that Texas good ‘ole boy wink, wink, I got yer back mentality. No oversight there. Look what was stored there, or what they admitted to. That crap is probably still being manufactured somewhere. Someone will slip up and blow the whistle eventually. Who really knows what was there. By the way, Schlumberger is across the street from the stadium. God help Denton and everyone around those sites, they are very close to unincorporated Argyle, ETJs, where there are no rules, just like the gasholes like it.

  3. says

    Our cummunities have not been educated about these issues with gas wells and to call 911 if anything is amiss with smells or sounds in the middle of the night! But truly, you know, they’re only there for 21 days and then they frack for 3 days and it’s over forever. Even though multiple wells need to be drilled, perfed and fracked over time, just don’t worry about it, sweet dreams. The one well “quietly” produces massive amounts of clean, natural gas for 50-300 years. Shhhhh….think about it.
    WCGasette recently posted..Range Resources Violated State Laws in Water Contamination Case ~ Brett Shipp Investigates!My Profile

    • Michael says

      Clearly you have no idea how long it takes for airborne contaminants to be released during fracking. Seconds. Minutes.

      “Well, yeah they have been known to release multiple carcinogenic chemicals into the air in close proximity to residential areas, but HEY IT’LL ONLY LAST THREE DAYS!”

      The “cummunities” shouldn’t need to be educated about what to do in event of toxic substance release caused by private companies with private interests.

  4. GhostBlogger says

    While gas wells do kill workers:

    Second man dies from injuries suffered in W.Va. gas well explosion

    Read more:

    If they decide it’s best to run, they should at least tell locals, and not guess about evacuations.

    Ah, EDB again. The second major chemical reason behind eliminating lead from gasoline was EDB. It was needed to scavenge lead from engines, but, itself is toxic enough to be a concern. MTBE has has been showing up in fracking operations, it also pollutes water:

    Groundwater verdict against Exxon Mobil is upheld

    If the largest oil company in the world can’t ignore what their MTBE laden gasoline use did, can a fracker really get off the hook for using it?

  5. Ben says

    The Federal government required that MTBE be placed in gasoline so they should be blamed if it is now showing up in our water supplies! What’s next? Blaming oil companies for ethanol?

    • says

      I love your faulty logic!

      Does the federal government require the fracking industry to inject the MBTE into the ground so it can get in drinking water?

      What’s next? Blaming the condom for breaking and causing a pregnancy?

    • GhostBlogger says

      Oil companies knew for years that MTBE would disperse fast in ground water, but they didn’t bother to raise a fuss about using it. With the lobbying power they have, they could have said something early on.

  6. Jon says

    Instead of using natural gas we could put a coal plant near Denton! The residents can complain all they want about natural gas drilling, but it will not go away. The city doesn’t have enough power to stop them and the RRC could give a rat’s ass about incidents like these. Denton residents are fighting a losing battle.

      • Joh says

        I know natural gas extraction isn’t perfect, but Denton is an industrial town and will always will be. The City Council has already approved the new gas pipeline to make way for more industries on the west side of town. Be thankful that there aren’t any saltwater disposal wells within the city limits (there are cities that have them in rural areas). I believe that disposal wells are more of a threat to the environment than fracking. Even if Denton bans fracking, the existing horizontal wells will be in place and any environmental damage will already be done.

  7. Tim Ruggiero says

    9 hours later, the operator reports the incident to the TRRC. I guess 9 hours is new “Immediate”.

    Accident Reporting

    To report an environmental emergency, discharge, spill, or air release from oil and gas facilities, pipelines, or alternative fuels contact the following:

    RRC 24 Hour Emergency reporting line 512-463-6788
    Oil and Gas Activities:

    Oil and Gas operators are required by §3.20, Chapter 3 (TAC) to give immediate notice of a fire, leak, spill, or break to the appropriate commission district office (see a map of the district boundaries here) by telephone. Such notice shall be followed by a letter submitted to the district office giving the full description of the event including, but not limited to, the volume of crude oil, gas, geothermal resources, other well liquids, or associated products that are lost.

    • says

      I’m sure you will remember that no one answers that RRC emergency number most of the time if it’s, like, not between 9 to 5.

  8. GhostBlogger says

    The flare goes, EDB, & other horrors:

    Bombing North Dakota
    Living amid the Bakken Oil Boom

    Then, in August of 2012, the Jorgensons had their worst scare yet. Richard and Brenda had just finished a long drive home from a funeral service when they found that the gas flare on the well 700 feet from their house had gone out. They could smell the foul, rotten-egg scent of hydrogen sulfide gas, and knew that along with it would be a cocktail of methane, butane, and propane. The couple didn’t know what to do. Petro-Hunt hadn’t given them an emergency number, and when they called the company’s office no one answered and there was no way to leave a message. So the couple threw open all the windows in their house, turned on fans, and left to move their horses farther away from the gas line.

    Brenda phoned me that night. She was in tears and at wits’ end. “Who do you call?” she cried. “What do you do?”

  9. Susan Hull says

    Great reporting! The Daily Show comes to Denton. Who you gonna watch? The pretty dancing girls or the fire in some guy’s water hose? Unfortunately, until the fire is in each and every hose they will probably watch the girls. The reading is soooo hard. What climate warming?

    Good luck, don’t give up, the earth depends on you. Little children in Denton depend upon you. It’s a true and noble fight.