Monday, April 11, 2011

Residents Gassed During Last Night's Storm In Southeast Arlington Texas

I got a surprising "URGENT" email message a few minutes ago. I did not know we had a Chesapeake Energy natural gas drilling site incident last night......

Jane Lynn has asked me to contact the media (she has no electricity) about last night's events at this site so that they will be present to over this story tomorrow night when council will be in the hot seat while deciding to permit another six wells tomorrow night at this site.  Anybody else reading this that can attend this meeting is urged to ask council NOT to permit anymore wells until we have a handle on how to prevent such releases in close proximity to people.

She called me this morning to tell me that she was treated by 911. Around 2 am last night, during the storm with lighting and winds, there was this transformer sound just prior to losing electricity. After opening her windows, an extremely loud "rocketship/high compression sound" was heard.  911 was already aware of the problem and said Chesapeake was in route to the Fulson site.  The husband drove by the site and confirmed that gas was escaping. He described the smell as the innertube smell from a bicycle. 

Raw, unprocessed, natural gas contains benzene (a known carcinogen). Fumes from the uncontrolled site quickly filled her home by the time she ran to close all the windows. 

Limiting the public's exposure to drilling (storm/wildfire/human) accidents is within our city council's control by enforcing adequate setback, however, Jane Lynn lives at least two blocks north of the site and suffered dizziness and heart pounding. 

Paramedics arrived and tried to calm her (assessing that she was having a panic attack). The paramedic commented that this was a highly regulated industry and that west Texas always has that "smell" and that she was "safe".  Someone needs to tell the uninformed paramedic that this is mostly a self regulated industry (TCEQ's Permit By Rule) and that toxic BTEX is present in those raw gases.

After the paramedics left, she had uncontrolled coughing. This morning she tells me she is suffering with heart palpitations and is missing work from the trauma of the exposure.

Based on the details I've gathered, the proposed one mile setback from schools by the Ft Worth League of Neighborhood to FISD should also be applied to drilling in all businesses and neighborhoods in urban AND rural areas.  Certainly 600 feet is not adequate and council has been allowing variances even to that distance!
  1. Our fire departments need to be equipped with suma canisters. Spectrometers so can take air samples upon dispatch so we do not have to wait up to 12 hours later when TCEQ arrives. 
  2. Our paramedics should have the opportunity to draw blood and or urine when they respond to drilling effluent exposures to test for BTEX exposure.
  3. Our city should have a gas drilling official on duty on weekends and in the middle of the night to receive calls from citizens needing to report events.
The public needs to have a way to know what their exposure has been after one of these "incidents" so that they and our city council members can make informed decisions about living/permitting drilling in our towns.

How ironic that yesterday Jane Lynn spoke with a neighbor suffering unexplained health issues since this site has come into their neighborhood.

This is only one of many neighbors that are having health (heart/nosebleeds) and evacuation issues.  A 70 year old woman goes to Walmart and walks around for the day when there is activity/fumes coming off that site...FYI.

Living in fear and with the unknown here in the Barnett Shale is what the Arlington TX experience has become for many.

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