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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Who You Gonna Call?

When fracking sites encroach upon your residential neighborhood, who DO you call when you hear an explosion, smell fumes, feel the earth move, or worse yet ~ who DO you call if a dam is breached?  

The Railroad Commission of Texas, the State agency that regulates Oil and Gas, requires gas operators to clearly display proper signage listing emergency contact numbers.  Since emergencies can happen at any time on any given day, one would assume that a responsible party would be available to answer these calls 24/7.  

Just out of curiosity, we tested the three emergency numbers listed at the bottom of the signage of this Vantage-operated Lake Arlington Baptist Church Site to find out who actually answers gas drilling-related emergency calls.  

 Signage at Lake Arlington Baptist Church Gas Drill Site, Arlington, TX

The first number rang and rang.  No answer.  No voice mail to leave a message.  We called the third number, and a recorded message said, "caller not accepting calls at this time."  When we tried the number with a Colorado area code, a guy named Dan answered his cell phone.  He stated that he is with Vantage, and that he is located in the Denton area.  That is a wonderful place to be since the citizens of Denton voted in favor of a fracking ban

It is curious that the number for the Railroad Commission of Texas ~ the State agency responsible for regulating Oil and Gas and protecting our groundwater ~ is NOT listed on this signage.  If residents call 911, the City is not required to communicate or report incidents to the appropriate regulatory agencies responsible for protecting our air and water.  That is the citizens' responsibility. 

Oil and Gas self-regulates.  

So, for instance, if an operator has a mishap and cracks a casing or experiences a pressure issue, they are required to self-report.  It's an honor system.  And we know how forthright they've been with our communities thus far.

So, who will you call when when you hear an explosion, smell fumes, feel the earth move, or worse yet ~ who you gonna call when the dam is breached


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

FLIR on Fish Creek's Fulson

Chesapeake, the Good Neighbor
At least that's what they told us... when the landman talked about a well that we would never know was there...

Over Thanksgiving weekend Sharon Wilson, Gulf Regional Organizer, came to Arlington with Earthworks' new FLIR GF320 Infrared Camera in tow.  She has received proper certification to operate this specialty camera which carries a hefty price tag of around $80,000.  She travels all around the region detecting and recording gas leaks in real time.  

Our first stop on the itinerary was the Fulson Drill Site.  We saw emissions spewing from the gas lift compressor positioned at the north end of the pad.  The Fish Creek Neighbors have been inhaling these VOC's for several years now.  Because these plumes cannot be seen with the naked eye, it works out quite well for the industry.  Many residents in this area wrestle with health issues, and these pollution plumes which billow and blow in our direction can only contribute to ill health, both physically and emotionally.  It was an extremely windy day, but despite meteorological conditions, the camera did capture a snapshot of what's spewing into our air shed 24/7.

Please know that this camera is NOT merely detecting heat as the industry would have you believe.   It pinpoints GAS LEAKS.  Click HERE for the detailed list of what this FLIR GF320 camera is able to detect.  There is scientific evidence proving that exposure to these gases carries serious health risks to humans.  In addition, the volatile nature of these gases places entire communities at risk for fires and explosions.

We have been asking our City to acquire one of these cameras because we have not felt safe since nearly 60 of these heavy industrial mining sites got permitted in our city.  It's been perplexing trying to understand why our gas well inspectors haven't been utilizing these cameras all along when conducting quarterly inspections of drill sites.  So, we presented this suggestion at a town hall meeting.  Our City Manager, Trey Yelverton, concluded that this was not necessary since our State (TCEQ) handles air complaints, and our City would not want to over-regulate.  Now that this video and others have been released showing definite leaks ~ and they all leak ~ we wonder what Arlington will do now to protect the people who live here or visit the "American Dream City."  
So, who benefits from all this clean energy? (sarcasm)  The Fish Creek neighbors do ~ a little.  On rare occasions a royalty check comes in the mail averaging $7 or $8 per month.  This neighborhood owns 50% of their minerals, while Union Life Insurance Company retained the other half.   Also, since there are three leaseholds on the Fulson Drill Site, (Fulson, West Wing, and Forks) neighbors only receive royalties off of ONE lease.  Wells drilled and fracked off the other two leases produce collateral damage to nearby residents while people living elsewhere get to enjoy the monetary benefits.  But, that's a story for another day...