There are several issues that have come up after looking at this. First, benzene has a melting point
of 42-43 degrees F, depending on who's MSDS you look at. The recorded Forth Worth temperatures
for those dates in December, according to The Weather Channel website, varied from a low of 26
degrees, to a high of 56 degrees. The TCEQ made no notes about the ambient temperatures in their
Try using summer blend gasoline to start a cold car engine when it's below freezing in the winter,
and you'll see this effect!
So, do you think they can have accurate benzene readings when it's below the freezing point
Second, there was no tests for carbon disulphide done. JT Baker's (a major, respect chemical
maker) MSDS for carbon disulphide shows it melts/freezes at -100C (-148F), so accurate
testing for that could have been done at those temperatures. I don't know why the TCEQ is
not testing for carbon disulphide. They have yet to explain it.
Then, the big disclaimer at the bottom of the pages is of concern to me:
"DISCLAIMER: This data is for screening purposes only and may include samples that did not
meet the established quality control acceptance criteria."
"This data was not collected, analyzed, or reviewed using the documented quality assurance/quality
control protocols defined in the Laboratory and Mobile Monitoring Quality Manual or those
defined by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference 2005."
People's health is at stake here, but they don't want to certify the data as meeting established
testing norms? Then, they publicly say there's no benzene problem shown?? Intents not
withstanding, testing protocols are there for a reason: For everyone's sanity. What if the
tests had shown something crazy, like 500,000 ppm+ of benzene? Would they have acted as
confident of those kind of "protocol not followed, but we think it's OK" type of results?
I've done calibration of instruments. We had to follow all the establish "protocols", including
temperature, gas type, pressures, & other conditions of the testing for calibrating. The
excuse of "It's close enough" did NOT cut it!
It might cost a few more nickles to do these tests right; Using a knowledge of the characteristics
of what you're looking for to know when (and when not to) to test, and strict following of the
established regulatory testing procedures, is more expensive.
But, it helps the credibility of whoever is associated with those tests.
In an email from TCEQ I was informed that the TCEQ has assured the City Council of Fort Worth that the testing will be repeated when the weather is warmer. The TCEQ study was done "in he fastest manner possible" to determine whether or not there was a general problem around the the facilities and the conclusion was that 'no', there is not a problem. In the same email, TCEQ defends testing for benzene in cold weather stating that the freezing argument didn't apply because the the tanks did not contain pure benzene but rather a mixture and that movement of the fluids into and out of storage tanks prevented the fluids from assuming ambient temp qualities. A repeat of the testing may support or deny that assertion. Lets hope that the next set of tests are conducted in a careful and scientifically methodical manner.
In response to my query regarding lack of testing for carbon disulphide, it was explained that a separate van would have been required and that previous studies suggested little reason to suspect unhealthy levels of carbon disulphide.
Best wishes, Dee
Wall Street Journal page A3 Thursday 4 Feb 10:
Gas Sites Spur Air Worries
By BEN CASSELMAN
The city of Fort Worth, Texas, one of the biggest beneficiaries in the natural-gas boom, is questioning its largely supportive stand of the industry after a study found high levels of hazardous chemicals in the air near production sites.
On Tuesday, Fort Worth's mayor said the city would follow up on the state-sponsored study with its own air-quality tests and could consider rewriting rules that allow drilling in residential neighborhoods.
"It's time we had some answers," Mayor Mike Moncrief said at a City Council meeting Tuesday evening.
The concerns over emissions come at a delicate time for natural-gas producers. New technologies have opened up huge new gas fields across the country, boosting U.S. supplies but also bringing drilling to areas such as Pennsylvania and New York that have seen little such activity for decades.
Companies have been forced to defend themselves against accusations that their drilling practices threaten the environment, especially drinking-water supplies. Industry leaders argue those concerns are baseless and have said opposition comes mostly from people who are being exposed to the industry for the first time.
But Fort Worth is a different story. The city has a long history with the oil industry, and when companies discovered a huge gas field in the area in the early 2000s, thousands of homeowners sold the right to drill beneath their properties.
A massive drilling boom brought thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of investment to Fort Worth. Concerns focused mostly on quality-of-life issues like noise and increased truck traffic.
"If you're a Texan, you grow up with the oil industry," said Libby Willis, president of the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods. "You tend not to second-guess it." Attitudes began to change last year when air-quality tests commissioned by the nearby town of Dish showed elevated levels of benzene and other chemicals. The industry and some independent experts have questioned the study's methodology, but the results prompted the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to conduct its own tests late last year.
The state commission tested 94 sites outside Fort Worth and found what it called "extremely high" levels of benzene, considered an immediate health concern, near two gas-production facilities. The highest level was comparable to levels experienced by drivers while filling their cars with gasoline.
The state study said the emissions were caused by mechanical problems that were quickly addressed. An additional 19 sites had elevated benzene levels that weren't an immediate health concern but that could cause problems over years of exposure. Benzene is a carcinogen that has been shown to cause leukemia in workers exposed to high levels over extended periods.
The other 73 sites tested didn't show high emission levels, and the study didn't collect air samples farther away from the well sites where residents would be more likely to breathe in the chemicals.
A separate, smaller study didn't find any problems within the city of Fort Worth.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said energy companies have been cooperating with its investigation.
Michael Honeycutt, director of the commission's toxicology division, said the study didn't suggest that gas production poses an immediate risk to residents' health. But he said the results were concerning because hundreds of wells are being drilled in heavily populated areas, meaning residents could be exposed for years.
"That could turn into an issue, especially with the density of those wells and associated equipment in areas of such population density," Mr. Honeycutt said.
The industry argues air-quality concerns are overblown and says companies quickly fix any leaks or other mechanical problems that lead to high emissions.
John Satterfield, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp., says people are overreacting to the study.
"I think a lot of people have taken that information out of context and have run with it," he said. Mr. Satterfield says Chesapeake supports further testing but doesn't see the need for new regulations, as some local lawmakers have proposed.
Still, the political winds appear to be changing. City Councilor Kathleen Hicks on Tuesday night said she was reluctant to approve any more drilling permits until the city can determine the extent of the air-quality issues.
Mr. Moncrief said he didn't see any need to stop drilling without more evidence that there was a problem. But the controversy may already be having an impact.
On Tuesday, gas producer XTO Energy Inc. withdrew a request for City Council permission to drill several wells on a site that some residents said was too close to an elementary school.
XTO will instead drill four wells on four different nearby sites, which doesn't require City Council approval. The company, which last year agreed to be acquired by Exxon Mobil Corp., didn't return calls seeking comment.
Write to Ben Casselman at email@example.com
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 5 Feb 10:
What part of drilling is causing the supposed benzene in the air? "Drilling"? Is that it? That's all you've got? Is it the fracking? Or the diesel engines used during the actual drilling?
If you're saying that it's from frack fluids.... Well, what you're saying is that benzene is part of the frack fluids, and that the majority of those fluids are migrating all the way to the surface (a geologic miracle) and then the benzene turns from its liquid phase to a gas phase - then it miraculously just hovers above the ground, forever (apparently there isn't wind in texas). Can we just agree benzene isnt from frack fluids?
Ok so then we move to the more reasonable argument (although still quite ridiculous), that benzene is in the air because of natural gas development (the whole process from drilling, to fracking). Well, these engines and generators do run on diesel engines, and a by-product is your typical pollution that is emitted from tailpipes. These "chemicals" involved in gas drilling are the same "chemicals" that come out of your car. So basically the argument has winded down to the point "We need to regulate chemicals emitted from diesel-burning engines". This has NOTHING to do directly with drilling. Unfortunately for your concern, diesel-powered engines are everywhere. In some cars, in some pickup trucks, in all 18 wheelers... Would it be unreasonable to say that there are elevated levels of benzene in the air around heavy industrial activity regions? Of course not. I'm positive if you tested the air on a highway you would find the same results. Do you hear residents near highways complain about the air quality? Maybe, but you wont find them making ridiculous claims trying to shut them down. Unfortunately (word used lightly) for them those highways will have the same high level activity for tens of years, drilling is a temporary process - as are the emissions involved (similar to any construction operation).
These benzene levels and "chemicals" (you use that word because it sounds scarier than "normal emissions from vehicles" - right?) are not exclusively associated with natural gas extraction. You are against development of anything that uses fuel (soo... everything in your life).
I find it pretty remarkable we can measure China's emissions which travel across the pacific ocean to california, yet at the same time you expect emissions from our drilling activities to stay put in fort worth forever. The logic of your argument is absolutely mind-boggling.
I see they tested the benzene levels around 21 sites. Are these sites permanent??? no, of course not. They drill for a month and then move on. These levels will eventually go down as drilling moves to different areas. How come they havent tested previously drilled regions... say 1 or two years ago? What about the workers who spend their whole lives on these rigs. Are they toppling over and dying because of their exposure to these levels their whole lives? Of course not. So why would we be making a fuss about a month of industrial development? it's because you all are willing to bring up anything, no matter how ridiculous it is, say it is a terrible thing, and the gas industry is responsible for it.
What a bunch of chicken littles. The sky isn't falling Dee.
A TCEQ report addressing health effects related to Barnett shale drilling identified a compressor station and a wellhead as sources of elevated benzene. Concerns were for the concentration of benzene in the air at residences downwind. Here's a Jan. 2010 report from the Toxicology Division of the TCEQ. http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/assets/public/implementation/barnett_sh...
Benzene as a component of petroleum distillates used in fracking fluids is a concern as far as water pollution. Information relevant to that concern can be found under the Aquifer/Drinking Water discussion. I believe that this may be a more serious threat than benzene in the air, but human exposure to benzene anywhere is a not a good thing as it is highly carcinogenic.
Best wishes, Dee
They tested the area around the wellhead!!! How can you not see how ridiculous this is. Have you ever been to a gas station?????? What do you think would happen if these brilliant folks tested the air quality immediately surrounding gas pumps. Duhh, let me think here. They would be many times greater than "appropriate levels" and many times more than these drilling sites. Are you concerned about the people who live near gas stations? Obviously not. Surely there is gas that drips on the ground (you can see stains) and into water systems. You can smell the gas, therefore it is in the air. Gas stations are spread across the country, all around homes everywhere. WHY ARENT YOU UP IN ARMS ABOUT THEM?!?!?!?!
Is it because claiming gas stations are an immediate threat to our health is ridiculous???? It's the same thing about these wellheads - except when comparing the two (drilling locations to gas stations) I can 100% guarantee there is more "poison" in the air around gas stations than drilling sites.
Are you ever going to open your eyes and realize what youre saying is absolute garbage? People like you will do anything, and spin any story into making the industry look bad.
Dee, simple question: Are you concerned about residential gas station air quality as much as this "issue" with drilling sites? And if you arent, why is that? I guarantee you dont fully answer the question or avoid it by bringing something else up.
well Dee, can you imagine burning coal for 100 + years to make steel and cars and all without filters.. and the wind pushing the resulting Sulphur amd mercury among other chemicals all over the north east USA, every state.. When it rains heavily in any given season.. 40% 0f the rivers and ponds and streams die... and this cycle will continue for the forseeable future.. the solids eventually go the bottom of the ponds and lakes.. and they want to build more coal plants...
brilliant work by the governent supposed to protect us..
now we have opportunity for cleaner gas, and they fight
What makes this site so great? Well, I think it's the fact that, quite frankly, we all have a lot at stake in this thing they call shale. But beyond that, this site is made up of individuals who have worked hard for that little yard we call home. Or, that farm on which blood, sweat and tears have fallen.[ Read More ]