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Nov. 25 - US: Texas worried about air pollution near Barnett Shale wells

Posted Date: 
Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From the Star-Telegram:

State environmental regulators want natural gas companies to voluntarily emit less air pollution after tests showed high levels of a cancer-causing chemical near wells in the Barnett Shale gas field. On Nov. 13, regulators from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Barnett’s eight biggest operators discussed ways to cut benzene emissions, said Michael Honeycutt, chief of the commission’s toxicology section.

Air samples showed significant levels of benzene in several locations. One sample taken downwind from a tank seven miles west of DISH showed a level of 1,000 parts per billion, which is more than five times the commission’s short-term exposure limit of 180 parts per billion.

Right now, most gas sites are operating under permits that don’t set a level for benzene emissions. Honeycutt said the operators are being allowed to address the problem under a "find and fix" program — if they voluntarily reduce the emissions, they can avoid a penalty. The commission follows up by revising the permit to set a lower standard for benzene emissions. It could take the commission three to five years to write a rule limiting the amount of benzene released from natural gas sites, Honeycutt told the League of Neighborhoods meeting.

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