More alarming air quality information from Texas natural gas drilling, including benzene

The Dallas Morning News recently reviewed hundreds of pages of documents regarding air emissions from natural gas production facilities in the Barnett Shale area of Texas. The paper reports that these documents "reveal a pattern of emissions of toxic compounds, often including cancer-causing benzene, from Barnett Shale facilities."

For example, they found that one compressor station--located 150 yards from several homes--had benzene levels six times the amount than can cause health problems with just short exposure, and 786 times the amount that could cause problems with lifelong exposure. Benzene is a known carcinogen.

They also found that about one in five locations where emissions were found were clearly a leak from a stuck or broken valve or an open hatch on a condensate tank. These are things that are easily fixed and can save companies money.