Hazardous Chemicals from Oil and Gas Development Detected Near Playgrounds across the Barnett Shale
Carcinogen levels violate TCEQ’s long-term ambient limits
Denton, TX, – Independent air tests at five separate playgrounds across the
Barnett Shale have revealed hazardous chemicals associated with oil and gas development at all five. At three of the playgrounds, carcinogens were present at levels exceeding TCEQ’s long-term ambient limits.
“The oil and gas industry claims that they’re drilling responsibly,” said ShaleTest president Tim Ruggiero. He continued, “These tests show they’re not.”
The tests were of part of a study conducted by ShaleTest.org, an independent nonprofit formed to test air and water in drilling-affected communities for those who can’t afford to fund such tests themselves. As part of the study, ShaleTest performed state of the art air modeling that shows that some of these hazardous chemicals travel for miles.
“Although emerging science confirms that fracking-related air pollution is a health risk, there’s no agreement yet on ‘how close is too close’,” said Calvin Tillman, ShaleTest’s Director. He continued, “these results suggest that sometimes ‘miles away’ can be too close.”
In Denton, Texas, where voters will decide whether to ban fracking in the November election, fracking ban opponents claim that a vote against the ban is a vote for “responsible drilling”. The Denton playground, located in McKenna Park, is one of the playgrounds at which carcinogens were found in excess of TCEQ’s long-term ambient limits.
“The City of Denton promised us air monitoring. But we’d never have known about toxic benzene at McKenna Park violating the TCEQ long term exposure limit if it hadn’t been for independent testing,” said Denton Drilling Awareness Group president Cathy McMullen. She continued, “After years in pursuit of responsible drilling with industry, and state and City government, we now know from personal experience that responsible drilling is a sham. That’s why the only way Denton residents can protect their families is to vote for a ban on fracking in November.”
This is not the first time toxics have been detected in McKenna park.
The community near McKenna Park collected small donations and hired an environmental scientist to conduct several sets of air monitoring during fracking and flaring.
Note: When this air testing was conducted, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) used Effects Screening Levels (ESL) to determine exposure limits. Now they use the Air Monitoring Comparison Values (AMCV).
Benzene was detected on three different days at 4.81 ppbv, 16.2 ppbv, and 55.4 ppbv, all are exceedences of the long-term ESL exposure limit (Center for Disease Control says long-term is one year) and one exceeds the short-term limit (short-term is typically 15 – 30 minutes).
Benzene is a dangerous chemical and the World Health Organization says, “Benzene is carcinogenic to humans, and no safe level of exposure can be recommended.” But benzene was not the only chemical detected at McKenna Park. Eleven different chemicals were detected and 16 tentatively identified compounds where detected some over long-term/short-term detection limits.