The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says it found benzene levels that exceeded the recommended safe levels at 21 of 94 natural gas production sites that it tested in the Barnett Shale field, the agency said Thursday.
Two companies have already made repairs at a site where the benzene levels measured 1,100 and 15,000 parts per billion, hundreds of times above the state and federal standard of 1.4 parts per billion.
"Although the results are complex, it is clear that gas production facilities can, and in some cases do,, emit contaminants in in amounts that could be deemed unsafe," the agency said in a news release.
The TCEQ has been under pressure about the environmental effects of the Barnett Shale since October. That's when the small town of Dish and Fort Worth business owner Deborah Rogers paid for their own tests. The Dish test found high levels of benzene and other compounds near a complex of pipelines and compressors. Rogers’ test found high levels of carbon disulfide.
TCEQ officials were already conducting air samples by then. But they also said they had known as far back as 2007 that fumes were being released from natural gas sites.
The agency has also come under fire for a presentation Sadlier made to the City Council two weeks ago. Sadlier said "the air is safe" after releasing the results of a three-day check at wells and other facilities in Fort Worth. The agency said in a news release that it tested 126 sites, but it only conducted actual tests at eight of those sites. The others were screened with infrared cameras and handheld monitors. And the tests were conducted on a cold day, when it’s less likely that fumes would be present.
Get the state's full report here: http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/implementation/barnettshale/bshale-main
Click here to see our previous coverage of the air test issues: http://startelegram.typepad.com/barnett_shale/2010/01/more-air-tests.html
-- Mike Lee