Texas: 1 in 5 natural gas well sites emits too much benzene

An article in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram speaks for itself. Excerpts:

State regulators found high levels of benzene at more than one out of every five sites in the Barnett Shale natural gas field, according to results released Thursday.

Benzene levels exceeded the recommended safe levels at 21 of 94 sites, the agency said.

One company has already made repairs at a site where the benzene level measured 1,100 parts per billion, hundreds of times above the state and federal standard of 1.4 parts per billion.

A sample at another well had a benzene concentration of 15,000 parts per billion.

Benzene is a known human carcinogen and causes leukemia, as well as other very serious illnesses. This issue is not limited to Texas. High benzene levels have also been detected in Colorado. It's been demonstrated that adopting air pollution control technologies can make companies millions of dollars.

These test results are unacceptable and confirm some of the public's worst fears. Alarms have been raised that demand an immediate response in every state, not just Texas. Each and every well should be inspected for similar threats to human health. More vigorous regulation, inspection and enforcement is essential to protect human health and the environment from toxic air pollution.

About the Authors

Amy Mall

Senior Policy Analyst, Land & Wildlife program

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