EARTHWORKS

A Day in the Gas Patch: What Happened Today in Argyle Texas

Sharon Wilson's avatar
By Sharon Wilson

August 3, 2011

Yesterday, just before I left to speak at the Dallas Drilling Task Force public meeting, I received an email from the ABCAlliance. The contents of that email changed what I planned to say to the task force.

Here's what I said: I am Sharon Wilson. I live at XXX. I lived for sixteen years in Wise County where fracking the Barnett Shale was born. I worked in the oil and gas industry for twelve years. I now work for EARTHWORKS' Oil and Gas Accountability Project. I work with the people who are impacted by natural gas extraction.

How many of you have read Flowback: How the Texas Natural Gas Boom Affects Health and Safety? [Shockingly, not many hands went up and my question was met with looks of bewilderment.] I hope all of you will read it because it documents what has happened to families and communities in the Barnett Shale. It includes letters of concern from scientists, doctors and toxicologists.

I planned to tell you some stories from Flowback. But just I received an email that changed my plan. I receive emails like this all the time. Here is What Happened Today in Argyle, Texas.

From the email:

This morning, Williams/Mockingbird was continuously venting as they repaired a compressor.

Venting is when the gas and all the toxins that come with it blows into the air usually with great force. This is not the first time something like this has happened in Argyle. These kind of things happen all the time throughout the Gas Patch. Argyle residents know the drill: activate the alert system, notify all neighbors, keep a close watch on everyone and on the facility. Call the TCEQ.

What one resident experienced:

I ran into this plume at dawn on my morning run and it about knocked me out. I felt it before I smelled it. The air was several degrees warmer than the rest of the morning air. For me the smell was the classic, "do I smell rotten eggs" ? with the first breath and then nothing.

She lost her sense of smell which is a common symptom of exposure to H2S gas.

They learned from the TCEQ that the venting would continue until the compressor was fixed and there was nothing to do to stop it. They would have to suffer, not only from the putrid smell, but also the accompanying health effects.

From a follow-up email:

tva reading - [Toxic Vapor Analyzer] 4 hours after the call - was 223 ppb. can you imagine what it was when we placed the call? Seriously, dangerous levels.

Industry claims they provide a lot of jobs. Here is the job they provide for every member of any community where they drill: Every member of that community must keep constant watch at all times. The state depends on complaints from residents to regulate. This is your new unpaid job. Mothers will constantly be on edge. Fathers will be angry because they cannot protect their families and children will be scared because they won't feel safe in their homes.

Then I gave them the pictures drawn by Emma Parr and Reilly Ruggiero. The artwork of children who live in the Gas Patch.

And my 3 minutes was up so I didn't get to finish.

P.S. From an email at 11:33pm:

Tceq was back out at Name redacted this evening I can smell it some at our house tonight I don't know whether they are still working or if it's residual

And that's A Day in the Gas Patch.

Tagged with: williams petroleum, greenhouse gas emissions, barnett shale, argyle texas, air pollution

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