Sunday, January 31, 2010

Barnett Shale air study to be released today

10:51 AM CST on Wednesday, January 27, 2010
By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is expected to release its report on Barnett Shale air emissions at 1 p.m. today.

Earlier this month, the commission announced that no "potentially dangerous" emissions were found in the air at 126 natural gas production sites in Fort Worth.

Agency workers collected samples in mid-December and found no release of volatile organic compounds at most sites. At other locations, the releases were below levels causing short- or long-term harm to health, TCEQ officials said in a written statement.

Agency officials briefed the Fort Worth City Council on the testing and are expected to release results of a larger Barnett Shale air-testing program today.

Fort Worth City Council members requested testing in early December after other test results in more rural areas were released. Some of those tests found high levels of benzene and other toxic chemicals near gas production facilities.

Some gas industry officials have previously said they didn't expect to see high levels of emissions at facilities in Fort Worth. That could be due partly to differences in the composition of the gas in various parts of the Barnett Shale, an underground gas-producing formation in North Texas.

The air around the Fort Worth testing sites was checked for 22 volatile organic compounds, including benzene. The areas tested were gas drilling sites as well as disposal and compressor facilities.

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