Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Democratic Process and Gas Well Drilling in Dallas

Speak up and tell the City Plan Commission and the Mayor what you think of Gas Drilling in Dallas.

Stand Up for The Right
to Speak Out
The fight over gas drilling in Dallas
 is now as much about the democratic process as it is about pollution...

- Public meetings scheduled five days before Christmas

- Hiding a huge compressor station and gas processing plant in a
"drilling permit"

- And now they want to steal a vote that we won in December through "reconsideration" of that vote on Thursday.....

Without taking any public comment!

But we assure you,
there will be
public comment

Help us protest this abuse of your rights and your lungs

Join Us Tomorrow...

January 10, 2013
Because some things
just need protesting

Thursday 1:30 pm
6th Floor City Council Chambers
Dallas City Hall


Friday, November 2, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Residents Battle Cry ...

"Don't Frack My Fairway"
Residents Protest with Drilling Rig at Official Re-Opening of City Golf Course Already Leased For Fracking
Spotlighting what they say is their city's rush to sacrifice park land to heavy industry, Dallas residents supporting a ban on gas drilling in public greenbelts crashed the official re-opening ceremonies on October 26, 2012 at the municipal golf course that City Hall has alaready leased for fracking.
Now being renamed "Luna Vista," the former LB Houston Golf Course hosted at least three separate leased drilling sites - including one immediately next to the driving range.  To show golfers how close they'll be to hundreds of trucks, heavy machinery and toxic chemicals, members of the Dallas Residents at Risk alliance set-up a 15-foot tall mock drilling rig immediately next to the club house for the ribbon-cutting.  The prop loomed over the proceedings, attended by City Council and Park and Recreation Board members, as a stark reminder of how the city has already compromised public safety and popular sentiment for the sake of gas leases.
Residents voiced concerns that the new Luna Vista Golf Course shows off our natural beauty here in the Trinity River bottomlands, and the proposal to allow a heavy industrial operation like gas drilling in between the river and the driving range is simply unacceptable.  Our park lands are for recreation and relaxation, not fracking and gas extraction.  The last thing this golf course needs is a toxic water hazard and hazardous fumes.
Afer two years and a list of task force recommendations, the Dallas City Council is still wrestling with the problems created in 2006 when they took over $30 million from gas operators for leases on city-owned propeerty.  The decision was not publicized and there were no public hearings.  Despite not drilling on those sites in the intervening period, gas operatos are continuing to seek permission to exploit them.  Many of those leases are either in park land like the Luna Vista sites, or in the Trinity River floodplain.  City Councilmember Sheffie Kadane and others have endorsed park drilling, saying the land is underutilized.
It's appalling that Councilmember Kadane and others on the Council are seriously considering fracking on thousands of acres of public park lands along the Trinity River with miles of hike and bike trails, a massive new socccer complex, and a municipal golf course in which we've just invested $5 million in renovations.  Our park lands are a generational asset, and our choices today will leave a lasting legacy.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dallas City Council Wants Fracking in Park Land

Citizens Protest Gas Drilling in Dallas Parks By Setting Up
Fracking Rig at White Rock Lake on “It’s My Park Day”
New 15-foot “rig” will make appearances at Winfrey Point
and Valley View Park to highlight danger to public spaces
What: Citizens show up with new fake fracking rig to protest gas drilling in Dallas parks
Where/When: 1) Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake (Emerald Isle Dr), Saturday October 6th, 9:00 a.m.
                               2) Valley View Park, 6950 Valley View Lane at Hillcrest, Saturday October 6th, 11:00 a.m.
(Dallas)--- Neighborhood activists will be using a 15-foot model gas drilling rig during this Saturday’s city-sponsored “It’s My Park Day” to spotlight a new city ordinance that could allow drilling in parks for the first time.
“It’s ridiculous that while the City is out celebrating our public spaces and trying to recruit residents to help them maintain them, it’s also considering a policy that would allow gas drilling to ruin them,” said Claudia Meyer, of the Mountain Creek Neighborhood Alliance, a member of the Dallas Residents at Risk coalition sponsoring the action. “We want to give Dallas residents some idea of what it means to have your local park turned into an industrial zone.”
Meyer and at least a dozen others will be showing up at White Rock Lake’s Winfrey Point at 9am on Saturday morning with a 15-foot high model of a gas drilling rig that citizens built as a travelling protest. It will be the rig’s debut, and the red and black prop promises to be an eye-catcher.  As the rig attracts attention, Meyer and her fellow activists will be handing out flyers warning volunteers that their favorite urban refuges could be targets of development if the city allows gas drilling in parks as part of its larger ordinance governing drilling in Dallas.
Thousands of acres of Dallas parkland is currently under lease for drilling. The city council’s gas task force, including outgoing Park and Recreation Board President Joan Walne, reversed a previous position at the last minute and endorsed drilling in parkland. Although White Rock Lake isn’t a declared site, protesters picked the park because it’s the gem of the City’s park system and it’s in the district of Councilmember Sheffie Kadane, who’s been an unquestioning advocate of park drilling. During an August council briefing, Kadane was recorded as saying, “We’ve got parklands there that aren’t being utilized for anything. What else are you gonna put there?”
“I don’t know what kind of park system Councilmember Kadane grew up enjoying, but we believe that most Dallas residents like their parks without heavy industrial activity in them,” said Edward Hartmann, with the Texas Campaign for the Environment. “The fact that the city would even consider allowing gas drilling operations on parkland is appalling.”
Dallas Sierra Club Conservation Co-Chair Molly Rooke pointed out that there’s never been any drilling in Dallas parks and Kadane is working hard to change this. “Councilmen Kadane actually wants to open up our parks to a land rush by gas operators. This is why residents in his district need to firmly say they don’t support such a radical change, and they won’t vote to re-elect the Councilman if he continues to push for it.”
After the stop at White Rock Lake, the rig will make its way to Valley View Park by 11:00 a.m. for a Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony, where city officials are expected to gather.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Community Meeting

League of Women Voters and Sierra Club present:

Much Ado About Fracking

A community meeting on gas drilling this week that you won't want to miss!

Moderated by B.J. Austin of KERA Dallas, this panel discussion will feature Dr. Eduardo Olaguer, Director of Air Quality Research at the Houston Advanced Research Center, and author of a new study showing that gas industry emissions are significantly increasing smog pollution levels in D/FW.

Thursday, September 13th, 7:00pm
Northaven United Methodist
11211 Preston Rd. 75230
The Dallas City Council is considering several major changes to our local gas drilling ordinance.  Come learn about the fracking process and how it will affect the region's air and water, the economy and health of people and the environment.
Bring a friend, spread the word.  The choices Dallas officials are making now will affect all of us for decades to come.  Make sure your voice is heard!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

City of Dallas Fearful of Being Sued by Gas Industry

And many City Council members want gas dollars in spite of the cost to citizens health and safety. What are we to do?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Community Notice

If you care: Be There!
City Council Briefing:
Gas Drilling Ordinance

Wednesday, August 1st, 1PM
City Hall Briefing Room:
1500 Marilla, Room 6ES

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Shale Shocked: Drilling for Dollars

Reprinted from Dallas Child Magazine, June, 2012 Issue
Shelley Hawes Pate
Mary Dunn & Lauren Niebes
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Calvin Tillman grew up on an oil field in Oklahoma. So, when he moved to DISH in Denton County, he didn’t think much of the natural-gas drilling activity going on in this tiny residential hamlet. In fact, he went on to become the mayor.

That is, until his family began to smell the noxious odors, and his two young sons experienced frequent, severe nosebleeds. Their home sat approximately 1,000 feet from a drilling site. He started to dig into the issue of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” of natural or shale gas, and it “didn’t take a lot of research” to uncover copious claims of environmental and health issues, especially respiratory, resulting from living near production sites.

Like the Dallas Cowboys, Neiman Marcus or barbecued brisket, fracking has become synonymous with North Texas, a dense parcel perched on the largest onshore natural gas field in the United States – the Barnett Shale. As of this spring, 15,731 total gas wells within 23 counties, including Dallas, Denton and Tarrant, were recorded by the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas operations.
Much of the gas is buried a mile below urban and suburban communities, which means gas companies often set up drilling operations close to homes, schools and other public buildings, causing an outcry over whether it is safe – especially for children.

Probably nowhere is drilling more pronounced than in Fort Worth, which was the first large city to permit shale production. Despite an early and sustained pushback by environmental activists, Cowtown sprouts more than 2,000 gas wells.

Consequently, as production has risen, complaints to federal, state and local agencies have also increased, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which oversees permitting of some drilling equipment and associated air emissions.

“Something is in the air”

Many landowners, including Elizabeth Lane of Arlington, have leased their mineral rights to gas companies in exchange for signing bonuses and royalties. Lane (not her real name) says she had never heard of natural gas drilling before her suburban neighborhood was approached by a gas company. She and her neighbors were swayed by the heady promise of lottery-like income with minimal inconvenience. And, she says, the notion that drilling would happen whether they signed or not.

Soon after drilling started, however, the mother of a 12-year-old daughter describes her residential respite turning into an “industrial zone,” filled overnight with the clamor of equipment, chemical odors and a thick smog that “took my breath away.”

She says she has gained $2,000 in payments so far, along with puzzling ailments, such as extreme exhaustion (her neighbor relates it to not being capable of “lifting a toothbrush”), dizziness and headaches. “Something is in the air,” she recalls thinking, and she began to take a new interest in her city council meetings, where fracking is a heated topic. “I realized quickly that this is not a good thing to be near your home.”

Drilling, of which fracking is just a small part of a complex, lengthy process, is permitted around the clock on large pad sites two blocks from Lane’s home. She claims to being frequently jarred from sleep by a racket and vibration akin to “having an appliance on all night.” But what’s really keeping her up is the nagging fear of what her daughter might be breathing in and how it could affect her health later.

She recalls a pungent smell rushing into her home one evening – and she could do nothing to stop it. “Why are they allowed to drill 24/7?” demands Lane. “Why are they allowed to drill in a residential neighborhood at all?”
“Potential health and environmental impacts”

Natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel than coal or oil. It’s also considered essential to the energy security of the United States. Even a modest increase in natural gas supply from shale deposits could generate more than 400,000 new jobs in the United States and upwards of $132 billion in U.S. economic output, a study shows. But it wasn’t always economically feasible to retrieve natural gas from the deep, porous shale formations in the earth.

When gas prices soared in the late 1990s, the U.S. turned toward a new technology of horizontal drilling and well fracturing to crack open the vast reservoirs of natural gas in a cost-effective way. Fracking is a technique in which blasts of high-pressured water, chemicals and sand fracture rock and release natural gas.

The American Gas Association says natural gas pipeline and utility companies spend approximately $7 billion a year on programs to ensure the safety and reliability of natural gas infrastructure. Federal authorities, however, admit there are environmental concerns associated with the production of shale gas, including the possibility of groundwater contamination, risks to air quality, migration of gases and fracking chemicals to the surface, mishandling of waste and the subsequent health effects.

Fracking fluids – which are known to contain some hazardous chemicals – can be released by spills, leaks, faulty well construction or other exposure pathways, contaminating surrounding areas. Because of the massive volume of water used (4 to 6 million gallons per well), disposing of the wastewater post-fracturing leads to further challenges.
The response from the gas industry to these issues has generally been denial – not only that any such problems exist but also that if they did exist they are not real risks. In the past year, concerns about the potential health and environmental impacts of shale gas drilling have led some jurisdictions, including Dallas and Denton, to issue a temporary moratorium on new wells in order to mull over the strengths and weaknesses of local ordinances. (There is no drilling in Collin County, which is not part of the Barnett Shale.)

But it’s not an issue that’s going away anytime soon. In fact, drilling is spreading to other areas of Texas and the United States. “The challenge for Texas is not whether to allow shale gas and oil production, but how to protect the communities whose lives and landscapes are being transformed by the boom,” according to the organization Earthworks in its recent report, “Flowback: How the Texas Natural Gas Boom Affects Health and Safety.”

“Disturbing chemicals in our area”

By 2009, residents of DISH living near 11 natural gas compression stations began to worry about the noise, unpleasant sulfur-like odors, and, most alarmingly, health problems they were experiencing, including headaches and blackouts. Tillman reported their concerns to Texas regulators and hired a private environmental consultant who discovered “disturbing chemicals in our area” associated with gas wells and gas compressor stations, he says.

Wolf Eagle Environmental sampled the ambient air at seven locations and “confirmed the presence in high concentrations of carcinogenic and neurotoxin compounds in ambient air near and/or on residential properties,” according to the report. Of particular concern was the detection of benzene, a known human carcinogen. The chemical concentration in the air exceeded safety standards – by a large amount, says Wilma Subra, a renowned chemist and microbiologist who reviewed the consultant’s study. “Acute impacts to health will occur with these concentrations of chemicals in the air,” she says.

The TCEQ Toxicology Division also examined the data and concluded that if the results were representative of normal and prolonged ambient conditions, the reported levels of benzene could result in long-term health risks to residents. “The DISH study can be compared to any area in the Barnett Shale with drilling activity. The same toxic chemicals will be present,” Subra says.

That study prompted the TCEQ to do its own investigation of air emissions in the Barnett Shale. Of 94 sites tested, two – near DISH – revealed extremely high levels of benzene, and there were 19 more with elevated levels of the chemical. At Tillman’s request, the Texas Department of State Health Services also performed blood tests on 28 DISH residents; results, however, showed that the exposure of DISH residents to volatile organic compounds was similar to that of the general U.S. population.

Tillman, who participated in the study, still has questions about the results. For instance, his blood test revealed the presence of dichlorobenzenes, potentially cancer-causing chemical compounds used in pesticides and, most commonly, mothballs, as well as in natural gas drilling operations. “I have never had mothballs in my home, nor would I have been using pesticides that time of year,” Tillman says. “I did, however, live next to one of the largest natural gas compression and processing facilities in the area.”

Tillman admits that independent blood tests he had run on his children didn’t find anything worrisome, but, adds, “nobody knows how much benzene a child can be safely exposed to.”

For Tillman and his wife, the threat of health problems from the drilling juggernaut overtaking their community (a dozen major pipelines converge here with more than 50 wells in a town of only 200 people), were not worth the risk. Tillman made the agonizing decision to resign from his mayoral post and sell their home at a loss. They now live in Aubrey, far from a drilling site, and report that their symptoms have “disappeared.”

Subra, recipient of a MacArthur “genius” award for her work documenting harmful toxins related to industrial operations, says 10–70 percent of the waste used in gas drilling can be considered hazardous. “People who live in these communities continue to report having their quality of life degraded substantially,” Subra says.

To make matters worse, “The burden is falling on everyday people to come up with the money to prove they are getting sick from these emissions,” says Jenny Land, a local activist who is affiliated with FracDallas, an umbrella group of concerned citizens.

Subra says acute health impacts from living in close proximity to natural gas drilling, of which children and the elderly are more susceptible, can range from irritated skin, nose, eyes, throat and lungs to headaches and dizziness, while chronic effects could include damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and the nervous system, as well as leukemia and other cancers.

But it’s difficult to link the symptoms definitively to fracking. “Most doctors are not equipped to deal with chemical exposure. They just treat the symptoms,” Subra says.

In response to the myriad of health concerns, the TCEQ says it has devoted a “tremendous amount of time and resources to the issue of Barnett Shale air quality.”

“And we will continue to do so,” says Chairman Bryan Shaw, Ph.D. After several months of operation, 24-hour air monitors in the Barnett Shale area (in Dallas, Fort Worth, DISH, Eagle Mountain, Flower Mound, Decatur and Everman) have not detected levels of concern for any chemicals.

“Children more vulnerable”

The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), an independent research organization focused on health problems caused by low-dose exposure to chemicals, analyzed health effects data for 61 chemicals found in products known to be used during oil and gas drilling or hydraulic fracturing in Texas. More than 90 percent of the chemicals are harmful to the brain, nerves, lungs and digestive system; 80 percent or more can affect the heart, blood and kidneys; and 67 percent can affect the immune system.

Though industry representatives have said there is little cause for concern because of the low concentrations of chemicals used in their operations, the report states that, “Numerous systems, most notably the endocrine system, are extremely sensitive to very low levels of chemicals.” The damage might not be perceptible at the time of exposure, but “we have no idea what the long-term effects could be,” reports Dr. Theo Colborn, founder of TEDX. “Our major concern is that this exposure is insidious.”

So, what are the additional risks to children who are exposed to shale production chemicals? “No one can answer that question,” says Sharon Wilson, who is the lead Texas organizer for Earthworks, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development. “We don’t have the science yet to determine how this can be done safely. Everyone is a guinea pig. The test case is here and now. We will find out the science from how this harms us.”

What we do know is that children are more vulnerable to environmental hazards. “They eat, drink and breathe more than adults on a pound for pound basis,” according to the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit. “Research has also shown that children are not able to metabolize some toxicants as well as adults due to immature detoxification processes.”

Adds the organization, “The fetus and young child are in a critical period of development when toxic exposures can have profound negative effects.”

Local communities fight back

Recently, the EPA took the first step toward setting national air pollution standards for emissions related to hydraulic fracturing. Drillers will be required to use cost-effective “green completions” that capture 90 percent of natural gas and other compounds for use or eventual sale rather than vent them into the atmosphere.

“We are thrilled that the EPA has stepped up and put out stronger rules, but it’s not enough. We need more,” says Wilson, who maintains the shale gas watchdog blog Bluedaze.

Some area towns have been successful at lobbying for tighter regulations – and, in the process, have discouraged drilling altogether. Driven by vocal community activists, Southlake approved one of the most comprehensive ordinances in North Texas, requiring a 1,000-foot setback between drilling rigs and homes and a halt to fracking during summer months because of the drought’s impact on the water supply. As a result, gas companies responded by backing away to produce minerals in areas with less restrictive conditions.

Others have logged a bitter fight. In 2006, Flower Mound residents voted out the mayor and entire city council because of concern over fracking. The new city council enacted controls so strong that drilling options are severely limited. “In the long run, how good the regulations are depends on how much the community fights for,” Subra says. “Even with the best set of ordinances in place, however, variances [which are frequently granted to drillers throughout North Texas] can drive the ordinance into the ground.”

For those living in the midst of drilling, there is a mix of determination (to fight) and despair (to flee). Like Tillman, Lane is considering uprooting her family. Her preteen daughter hasn’t exhibited any symptoms related to the gas drilling, but “I worry about the long-term effects,” she says. “I feel like what choice do I have but to move?”

“When so many citizens across almost two dozen counties report similar complaints and symptoms associated with gas drilling, something is wrong,” reports Earthworks. “More thorough research is needed.”

Dr. Christopher Portier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health, makes clear that the science on the issue isn’t settled yet. “Studies should include all the ways people can be exposed, such as through air, water, soil, plants and animals,” Portier writes.

The EPA is in the middle of a large study to determine any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water and groundwater.

Though residents such as Lane contend the quality of their water has changed since drilling ensued, so far there hasn’t been one water contamination case associated with the process of hydraulic fracturing in Texas, according to the state. Texas recently adopted one of the nation’s most comprehensive chemical disclosure rules for fracking chemicals – a start at creating transparency, Subra says. The law, which went into effect earlier this year, requires Texas oil and gas operators to disclose (at all of the ingredients and water volumes used to frac wells in Texas. Companies, however, will still be given leeway for proprietary chemicals, which are protected by trade secret agreements, Subra says.

State Representative Lon Burnam of District 90 (Democrat–Fort Worth) filed a bill last year to prevent drilling within 1,200 feet of public schools statewide. The measure was one of many proposals that died after facing industry opposition. Burnam says he will continue pushing the measure next year when the Texas Legislature is back in session but is concerned that industry-friendly lawmakers will foil all but “watered-down” regulations.

“We’re fortunate to have shale gas in North Texas, but we need to extract it in a way that doesn’t threaten public health and safety,” Burnam says. “Current law favors private profits over public health, particularly for vulnerable populations like children. We can and must change that.”
So Loud It’s Ridiculous

So. What’s it like to live next to a gas drilling rig? Elly Khoei, an Arlington resident, is all too happy to let you in on the soundtrack. Khoei, a biology student at UTA, lives next to a horse farm that housed a drilling operation, and she could lie in bed and watch the activity just 600 feet away, only partly concealed by a noise barrier that she likens to a “green used diaper that flaps in the wind.”

There is loud, aryhthmic clinking – from pipes, poles, whatever. You can’t see exactly what’s going on, so it’s hard to pinpoint the source. Heavy trucks grinding in and out. And, as late as 3am, hard clinking sounds, wires shaking, loud rumbling, a guy’s voice on a loudspeaker.

Drilling, she says, took months, disrupting her attempts to study. “I would go outside and flip them off and go back inside,” she says. “It drove me crazy. It is so loud it’s ridiculous.”

Arlington resident Elizabeth Lane likened the noise of fracking to “helicopters hovering over our house.” Depending on how close you are to the site, you could also have powerful spotlights beaming in your windows at night. “This is heavy industrial mining,” Lane says. “This is what it is.” ­
—Julie Lyons

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Recent Report from ProPublica

Injection Wells: The Poison Beneath Us

A class 2 brine disposal well in western Louisiana near the Texas border. The well sat by the side of the road, without restricted access. (Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation's geology as an invisible dumping ground.
No company would be allowed to pour such dangerous chemicals into the rivers or onto the soil. But until recently, scientists and environmental officials have assumed that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the waste for millennia.
There are growing signs they were mistaken.
Records from disparate corners of the United States show that wells drilled to bury this waste deep beneath the ground have repeatedly leaked, sending dangerous chemicals and waste gurgling to the surface or, on occasion, seeping into shallow aquifers that store a significant portion of the nation's drinking water.
In 2010, contaminants from such a well bubbled up in a west Los Angeles dog park. Within the past three years, similar fountains of oil and gas drilling waste have appeared in Oklahoma and Louisiana. In South Florida, 20 of the nation's most stringently regulated disposal wells failed in the early 1990s, releasing partly treated sewage into aquifers that may one day be needed to supply Miami's drinking water.
There are more than 680,000 underground waste and injection [1] wells nationwide, more than 150,000 of which shoot industrial fluids thousands of feet below the surface. Scientists and federal regulators acknowledge they do not know how many of the sites are leaking.

Federal officials and many geologists insist that the risks posed by all this dumping are minimal. Accidents are uncommon, they say, and groundwater reserves — from which most Americans get their drinking water — remain safe and far exceed any plausible threat posed by injecting toxic chemicals into the ground.
But in interviews, several key experts acknowledged that the idea that injection is safe rests on science that has not kept pace with reality, and on oversight that doesn't always work.
"In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted," said Mario Salazar, an engineer who worked for 25 years as a technical expert with the EPA's underground injection program in Washington. "A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die."
The boom in oil and natural gas drilling is deepening the uncertainties, geologists acknowledge. Drilling produces copious amounts of waste, burdening regulators and demanding hundreds of additional disposal wells. Those wells — more holes punched in the ground — are changing the earth's geology, adding man-made fractures that allow water and waste to flow more freely.
"There is no certainty at all in any of this, and whoever tells you the opposite is not telling you the truth," said Stefan Finsterle, a leading hydrogeologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who specializes in understanding the properties of rock layers and modeling how fluid flows through them. "You have changed the system with pressure and temperature and fracturing, so you don't know how it will behave."
A ProPublica review of well records, case histories and government summaries of more than 220,000 well inspections found that structural failures inside injection wells are routine. From late 2007 to late 2010, one well integrity violation was issued for every six deep injection wells examined — more than 17,000 violations nationally. More than 7,000 wells showed signs that their walls were leaking. Records also show wells are frequently operated in violation of safety regulations and under conditions that greatly increase the risk of fluid leakage and the threat of water contamination.
Structurally, a disposal well is the same as an oil or gas well. [2] Tubes of concrete and steel extend anywhere from a few hundred feet to two miles into the earth. At the bottom, the well opens into a natural rock formation. There is no container. Waste simply seeps out, filling tiny spaces left between the grains in the rock like the gaps between stacked marbles.
Many scientists and regulators say the alternatives to the injection process — burning waste, treating wastewater, recycling, or disposing of waste on the surface — are far more expensive or bring additional environmental risks.
Subterranean waste disposal, they point out, is a cornerstone of the nation's economy, relied on by the pharmaceutical, agricultural and chemical industries. It's also critical to a future less dependent on foreign oil: Hydraulic fracturing, "clean coal" technologies, nuclear fuel production and carbon storage (the keystone of the strategy to address climate change) all count on pushing waste into rock formations below the earth's surface.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Our First Responders

Have these men been trained?

Has the city of Dallas budgeted the cost of training for its first responders to gas well accidents?

The Fire Chief of Arlington, Texas has submitted a Plan for over 40 of its first responders to receive training and new equipment to protect citizens from gas well accidents.  The Plan will cost $800,000.00.  Is Dallas considering these costs, when they consider all the costs for allowing drilling in Dallas?  Read:

Fire Chief Presents Gas Well Preparedness Plan

Fire Chief Don Crowson presented a Natural Gas Well Preparedness and Response Plan to the City Council on Tuesday during their afternoon work session.
The chief told the council a gas well plan is needed due to the unique challenges for public safety, the rapid growth of drill sites, and the fact that they are located in urban settings near neighborhoods, schools, and businesses. The chief expressed the need for additional well oversight, and expertise and emergency response capacity.
The chief’s plan calls for a system approach of three elements to be addressed: oversight, inspection, and response capacity. It also calls for a unified partnership between the departments of Fire, Community Development and Planning, Water, and Public Works and Transportation.
“We see it as a system approach issue,” said Crowson. “An active and continuous partnership with other City partners as we approach this issue from a preparedness and safety perspective, which is key to the Fire Department’s mission.”
The plan is expected to cost $800 thousand per year and be funded by a Natural Gas Well Operational Permit Fee, which is expected to be around $2,400 per well. The plan costs will include hiring a natural gas well program manager, a natural gas well site safety and security fire inspector, and six fire fighters assigned and specially trained to handle natural gas well incidents.
Under the councils direction, Chief Crowson will report back at the next council afternoon work session on February 21 with information on the number of calls or incidents the Fire Department has responded to regarding natural gas wells, as well as feedback collected from gas well drillers.
For more details, click here to view the Chief’s presentation.
By Michelle Rice

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Councilmember Scott Griggs Hosts Gas Drilling Meeting

Our Neighborhood and the City of Dallas is at stake!

Image Detail
Proposed Gas Drilling Rig of ExxonMobile at FM 1382 and Camp Wisdom Rd

Protecting Our Community from Gas Drilling -

An Update on the New Ordinance


Hosted by Councilmember Scott Griggs

Thursday, June 14 @ 6:30 pm

Hampton-Illinois Library (2951South Hampton Rd)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Proposed Gas Drilling in Mountain Creek


What you need to know

TUESDAY, MAY 8th 7:00 — 8:30

Harmony Charter School

8120 W. Camp Wisdom Road, Dallas

Don’t let the Dallas City Council Roll Back Protection for Mountain Creek Residents

Keep Drilling Away from People & Parks

Water for Drinking Not for Drilling

Don’t Make Bad Air Worse

Full Disclosure of Toxic Risk

24/7 Effective Oversight

For more information: Zac Trahan 214-599-7840

Friday, April 27, 2012

Natural Gas Fracturing and Childrens' Health

Natural Gas Extraction and Hydraulic Fracturing Information
for Parents and Community Members

Special Susceptibility of Children

Children are more vulnerable to environmental hazards.  They eat, drink, and breathe more than adults on a pound for pound basis.  Research has also shown that children are not able to metabolize some toxicants as well as adults due to immature detoxification processes.  Also, the fetus and young child are in a critical period of development when toxic exposures can have profound negative effects.


Natural gas extraction from shale is a complex process which includes:  1) building access roads, holding ponds, and the drill site; 2) Construction of pipe lines and compressor stations; 3) drilling and hydraulic fracturing to capture the natural gas; and 4) disposal of flowback water and drilling waste.

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydrofracking or fracking, uses a combination of water, sand, and chemicals injected into the ground under high pressure to release natural gas or oil.  This process has become much more common in the US over the last decade.  It was first used for natural gas in Colorado, Wyoming, and Texas but has recently spread into other states including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Health Issues

Questions have been raised about the possible health effects of air and water pollution caused by Natural gas extraction/Hydraulic fracturing.  The Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) network, which consists of experts throughout the country dedicated to preventing poor health outcomes in children from environmental causes, developed this fact sheet.  There is little research on the health effects to children from fracking.  Because many questions remain unanswered, the PEHSU network recommends a  cautious approach to toxicants in general and to hydraulic fracturing specifically.

Water Contamination

One of the potential routes of exposure to toxins from the fracturing  process is the contamination of drinking water, including public water supplies and private wells.  This can occur when geologic fractures extend into groundwater or from leaks from the natural gas well if it passes through the water table.  In addition, drilling fluid, chemical spills, ad disposal pit leaks may contaminate surface water supplies.  A study conducted in New York and Pennsylvania found that methane contamination of private drinking water wells was seen in areas close to active natural gas drilling. (Osborne SGG, et al. 2011).  While many of the chemicals used in the drilling and fracking process are not disclosed, the list includes benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene, ethylene glucol, glutaraldehyde, hydrochloric acid, and hydrogen treated light petroleum distillates.  These substances have a wide spectrum of potential toxic effects of humans ranging from cancer to adverse effects on the reproductive, neurological, and endocrine systems (ATSDR, Colborn T, et al, U>S> EPA 2009).

Air Pollution

Sources of air pollution around a drilling facility include diesel exhaust from the use of machinery and heavy trucks, and emissions from the drilling and NGE/HF processes.  These air pollutants are associated with a spectrum of health effects in humans.  Particulate matter air pollution (dust), for example, has been linked to lung illnesses, wheezing in infants, cardiovascular events, and premature death (Laden F et al, Lewtas J, Ryan PH, et al, Sacks JD, et al).  Since each fracturing event at each well requires up to 2,400 industrial truck trips, residents near the site and along the truck routes may be exposed to increased levels of these air pollutants (New York State DECDMR, 2009).

Volatile organic compounds can escape from the wells and combine with nitrogen oxides to produce ozone (CDPHE 2008, CDPHE 2010).   Due to its inflammatory effects on the lung system, ozone has been linked to asthma attacks.  Elevated ozone levels have been found in rural areas of Wyoming, partially due to natural gas drilling in these locations.  (Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, 2010).  In an air sampling study form 2005 to 2007 conducted in Colorado, researchers found that air benzene concentration approached or exceeded standards at sites with oil or gas drilling (Garfield County PHD, 2007). Benzene exposure during pregnancy has been associated with neural tube defects (Lupo PJ, et al) and childhood leukemia (Whitworth KW, et al., 2008).

Noise Pollution

Noise pollution from the drilling process and resulting truck traffic has not been adequately evaluated, but since drilling sites have been located close to housing in many locations, noise from these industrial sources might impact sleep, and that has been associated with negative effects on learning and other aspects of daily living (Stansfeld SA, et al, 2003, WHO 2011).


In light of the lack of research on the possible health effects from gas and oil well operations located near human habitation, as well as considering the unique vulnerability of children, the PEHSU network recommends the following:

Continuing to monitor water quality, noise levels, and air pollution in areas were fracturing sites are located near communities.

 Monitoring the health impacts of persons living in the area with research studies.

Increasing the awareness of community healthcare providers about the possible health consequences of exposures from the fracturing processes, including occupational exposures to workers and the issue of take-home toxics (e.g., clothing and boots contaminated with drilling muds).

Disclosure of all chemicals used in the drilling and fracking to ensure that exposures are handled appropriately and to ensure that monitoring programs are adequate given the short half-lives of volatile organic compounds and the fact that many of the fracking chemicals have not been disclosed, blood testing should not be performed unless there has been a known direct exposure.
Reprinted, in part, from Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units.