Like data? Concerned about the air in the Barnett Shale?
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has just launched your new favorite website.
The state agency installed new air monitors in the town of DISH and at Eagle Mountain Lake Thursday and began instantly posting the data online.
TCEQ plans to continuously stream hourly reports on its website of data from the monitors on the levels of 46 volatile organic compounds including benzene, a chemical that has raised the most health concerns related to drilling in the Barnett Shale.
“It’s pretty much real-time data,” TCEQ spokesman Terry Clawson said.
Along with the two new monitors, the agency also began posting online the latest data from two previously-installed air monitors – one in northwest Fort Worth and the other in Dallas.
Clawson said TCEQ hopes to install two more air monitors in the Barnett Shale region by the fall. The agency is currently trying to determine the best locations.
For each air monitor, the site provides the hourly level of each compound in the air measured in parts per billion.
The site does not currently say if any of the levels are high enough to be considered unhealthy. Various government websites, including in the TCEQ’s own toxicology section of its website, feature lists of known air contaminants and the screening levels which would normally warrant further review.
The monitors use gas chromatography to analyze the air. It costs $250,000 to purchase each monitor and pay for the installation and first year of operation, and $100,000 for every year after that. The money for the monitors is coming out of the TCEQ budget, Clawson said.
DISH Mayor Calvin Tillman, a longtime critic of how TCEQ and other state agencies have addressed the environmental impact of natural gas drilling, said the air monitors would do a lot of good.
“I would expect there would be at least hundreds of people who will look at this pretty regularly,” Tillman said. “The operators are going to have to know people are looking now.”