We're seeing OPEN WELLS scattered through neighborhoods

Faith Chatham referring to the DFW Midstreams Pipeline through the ONCOR/LUMINANT/ TXU utility easement in east Arlington:
I'd never have believed we'd see UNCOVERED 20' WELL HOLES in UNFENCED construction sites in neighborhoods in Arlington!
I didn't think we'd ever see UNFENCED INDUSTRIAL CONSTRUCTION SITES next to children's playgrounds!
I am astounded that these kinds of hazards to children are brought into children's neighborhoods and there are NO LAWS TO PREVENT IT!

Coverage of East Arlington Pipeline Nightmare - Daniel Dr. & Bob Cook Park

By Jim Grimes - News 33 - May, 15, 2009


By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - May 27, 2009
State Rep. Lon Burnam wrote a good bill, which would have made life safer for residents in the Barnett Shale. The House Energy and Resource Committee, chaired by former Speaker, Rep. Tom Craddick, butchered Burnam's bill (HB1537), removing requirements for gas to be odorized and dehydrated at the wellhead, and relaxed pipeline inspection standards from 2 years to 5 years. C.S.H.B. 1537, the committee's version, has few of the protections Burnam tried to get for the people of this region.
Read entire article on Arlington Texan

Is this "the industry standard" for covering up a drilling well sump hole so children can't fall in?

PHOTO BY EDDIE CROSSWHITE - copyright 2009 - used by permission
Driver Pipeline's work crew's responded to instructions this week to cover-up the deep well hole (sump holes) on the Daniel Drive DFW Midstreams Pipeline/ONCOR constuction site in East Arlington. Homeowner Eddie Crosswhite photographed the hole from his back yard after the crew was gone. The president of DFW Midstreams Pipeline, in a phone coversation with Faith Chatham Wednesday afternoon stated:
"They are supposed to be covering the sump hole when they leave each day. Do you know if that is happening?"
Faith assured him that she could find out. Read
article on About Air and Water



Faith Chatham shows Daily Kos readers the "Attractive Nusiance" which are potential death pits for children on natural gas pipeline construction sites in Arlington, Texas be . Comment is addressed to TxSharon, a blogger who researches and writes about Barnett Shale production issues. Click here to see photos

Adjacent to the dumpster at an East Arlington Apartment Complex

Adjacent to the dumpster at an East Arlington Apartment Complex
20' deep sump holes were "sometimes" covered with ply board. We found this one next to the "caution children at play" sign uncovered several weekends during the 60+ days DFW Midstreams Pipeline was working on this site.

A toddler plays a few feet inside this opening

A toddler plays a few feet inside this opening
Beyond this opening several 20' deep well holes remained uncovered for nearly 3 months. Five children lived only feet away from this unfenced pipeline construction site. Local authorities had no jurisdiction on this pipeline site. State law grants oversight of pipelines to the Railroad Commission.

When the portable drill was removed, there were 20' deep well holes in the unfenced worksites

When the portable drill was removed, there were 20' deep well holes in the unfenced worksites
Horizontal drilling for pipelines is similar to horizontal drilling for gas wells, only there is no required set-back for pipelines from homes, schools, and other structures.

Parents chose a quiet safe family-oriented neighborhood

Parents chose a quiet safe family-oriented neighborhood
but ended up with a pipeline war zone where their children were unnecessarily at risk for nearly 4 months of industrial construction in their neighborhood.

The Luminant utility easement in their neighborhood resembled a war zone for months.

The Luminant utility easement in their neighborhood resembled a war zone for months.
No environmental study was required and there were no public hearings before construction equipment moved into Daniel Drive. Texas Law grants homeowners and the city no oversight over usage of existing utility easements.

Ways to Win Friends When Invading a Neighborhood

Ways to Win Friends When Invading a Neighborhood
Porta potty stationed by front yard of Daniel Dr. resident for 3 months; Some workmen relieved themselves in field across street from residents' homes. It was a long easement. There were better places for their toilet! Months later along the same easement homeowners in the Colewater Creek subdivision complained that workers on the same pipeline exposed themselves, "relieving themselves 'au natural' in their neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pipelnes, gas wells and Cowboy Stadium

By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - June 8, 2010
If this well is approved, the pipeline serving it will be DFW Midstreams Pipeline. The pipeline company's President Brett Wiggs says:
The pipeline at the Center St. well won't be as big as the one that blew up in Johnson County. It will only be 12' in diameter - 16' maximum.

Wiggs says the route of the pipeline is still not determined. Roger Veneable, head of the City of Arlington Real Estate Office said:
If the Center St. well is drilled, the pipeline route will probably be up Center st to Sanford and west on Sanford.

Derron Groath, the Oil and Gas specialist for the City of Arlington mentioned that
There is a possible alternate route along a street immediately west of Center to avoid disruption of traffic on Center.

In reality, once a gas well drilling site is approved by the City Council, except for right of way across or along city street or on other city property, the city really has very little control over the route of a pipeline. Oversight of pipeline construction and operation is under the jurisdiction of the Texas Railroad Commission.
Critical eyes are on the Railroad Commission. Railroad Commissio
ner candidate Jeff Weeks says:
The Railroad Commission operates under outdated rules and regulations.

Weeks says:
Many of their rules were written twenty to forty years ago for vertical wells. Most wells these days are drilled horizontially and the rules are not written to regulate horizontial drilling.

The Railroad Commission is understaffed and does not have adequate numbers of inspectors to adequately oversee the number of Oil and Gas sites they are charged with sole oversight. For the past decade their departmental budget has been consistently cut each year while the number of sites they are to inspect has escalated.

In Arlington alone since 2004 the number of gas wells drilled has cimbed sharply each year. Derren Groth, City of Arlington Gas Well Coordinator, says:
In 2006 there were 6 wells permitted in Arlington.
In 2007 there were 40 wells permitted in Arlington.
In 2008 there were 55 wells permitted in Arlington.
In 2009 there there 68 wells permitted in Arlington.
To date this year 17 permits have been issued
39 applications for wells in Arlington are pending.
(Total of 56 permits thus far this year).

That gives 187 wells permitted and still operating since 2006 with applications for 39 under consideration at this time.

The number of oil and gas sites the Railroad Commission must oversee has tripled, staffing has not increased, and three/fourths of the sites are in the Barnett Shale.

Frequently the Railroad Commission Inspectors wait months after construction has begun on a leg of pipeline before making a site visit. Construction and drilling crews work weekends 8-5 M-F. Dale Henry, a petroleum industry safety specialist who was a three time candidate for Railroad Commissioner continually pointed out that
the hours of the field inspectors should include evening and weekend shifts .

With natural gas pipelines running within 20' to 30' from people's bedrooms and adjacent to schools and over playgrounds and parks, the current Railroad Commission practice of only inspecting pipelines for leaks every 3 to 7 years seems inadequate to many Arlington homeowners.

Kim Fiel, president of the Old Town Neighborhood Association near the new Cowboy Stadium in Arlington is very concerned about the safety of her children.
A new gas well is being considered only a few hundred feet from our home,"
Fiel said. She tried to get her son's blood tested for heavy metals from the VOC's emitted by gas wells near his school but has had difficulty locating a lab which runs that kind of testing. She's been told that the cost will be over $500.00 and her family's health insurance probably won't cover it.

Disappointed with the Arlington City Council which approves almost every well permit presented to them, despite public testimony opposing gas drilling. Fiel wrote a rap song and used it at one Arlington City Council meeting as her comment during public comments on zoning change for the Truman well near her home. Dubbed the "White lady rapper" her City Council rap got over 2500 hits on U-tube within a few days. However the City Council voted to approve the zoning change. Citizens will have another opportunity to comment to the City Council when the gas company applies for a drilling permit.

Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, M.D. expresses concern for citizens health, especially asthma. He stated at the City Council meeting June 8th
"All gas wells in Arlington have been tested by TCEQ and they are all within the levels for health."

Some citizens diagree with the Mayor. Many question the sensitive of the tests. TCEQ has stated that they withheld data from the City of Fort Worth which showed that the city's air contained toxic chemicals which are not healthy when a person is continually exposed. Children, pregnant women and children in the womb are the most sensitive to the heavy metals (lead, arsenic, etc) which are in the air. In Denton County at Dish citizens living near the compression stations have documented that the contents of heavy metals in their blood are the same chemicals which are in the emission in the air emissions of the compression stations in their town. Kim Fiel and Harriet Irby want to see sound science to show the effect of the air pollution on the children.

DFWRCC co-founder (author) Faith Chatham spoke with Carrizo Oil representative Scott following the June 8th Arlington. Chatham stated: "A good place for your company to start as a show of faith to the community would be for you to install air monitors by the YWCA Day Care Center on UTA Campus licensed for infants and children near your 22 well heads to give some sound science to show what VOCs the children are exposed to from your operation." VOCs are the emissions which contain heavy metals which are dangerous for pregnant women, unborn babies and children. Arlington has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the USA. Although there is nothing tying that directly to O&G production in Arlington, DFWRCC wants to see evidence that oil and gas emissions are not endangering the health and development of children.

Friday, April 30, 2010

DFWRCC Calls for Tighter Enforcement of O&G operations

By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC- April 30, 2010

April 30, 2010

Comments to TCEQ on Proposed Changes to Permit by Rule and Standard Permitting for Oil and Gas Production in Texas
About DFWRCC: DFW Regional Concerned Citizens is a network of citizens in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex who monitor governmental policy in the North Central Council of Governments region. We concentrate our resources on communication and activism in the areas of transportation, environment and ethics in government.

Reviewing the draft of proposed rule changes for PBR and MMS for Oil and Gas:
We believe that proper regulation of oil and gas drilling, exploration, production, storage and transmission is crucial to protect critical water reserves and vital air resources, and to protect public health and natural habitats and the economy. We support the need for TCEQ to better regulate oil and gas activities throughout Texas.

Rules should be uniform throughout the state for all wells/production, transmission, and storage sites. Uniform rules are equitable to all producers.

There should be no grandfathering of wells and /or no staggered timeframes for implementation of new rules.

While we understand the difficult legal issues of applying new rules retroactively, we believe that these rules should apply to all Oil and Gas Facilities in the State of Texas. Where there is question about the protection of health and safety, we believe that the earliest implementation date is the best. Waiting until 2011 or 2012 is not in the best interests of either the public or the producers.

We oppose multi-tier incentives to try to get producers to do what responsible corporate citizens should do anyway.

Air pollution and water pollution travel across legal jurisdictions; therefore, wells/sites/facilities in air-quality attainment areas and non-attainment areas should all be held to the same strict standards.

Applying different dates for rule implementation to different wells, or applying different tier rating to wells, creates too much confusion and produces higher administrative costs, complicating timely and effective inspection, oversight and enforcement. Applying different rules to different wells also complicates operations for the producers and escalates administrative and legal cost, to the operation.

New rules should apply to all wells/facilities 60 days after passage by the Commission and/or Legislature. Waiting two to four years to implement better rules is detrimental to the economic health and welfare of the communities, and to public health and safety of individuals.

Texas has a tragic history with un-odorized natural gas where leaks were not rapidly detected and corrected at New London School. Leaks should be corrected within 24 hours of detection. After 48 hours fines should escalate substantially every hour that the leak remains uncorrected, and should be substantial enough to cover costs of re-inspections, monitoring and corrective action by state agencies if required.

Operators should bear the full cost of regulatory/oversight and inspection by state and federal agencies. This cost should not be passed on to the taxpayer.
Operators should factor in these costs when performing cost/benefit analysis before deciding to invest. Those who profit from exploitation of the resources should bear the full cost of oversight and monitoring for health and safety of the community, but shall not have authority or over-sight of such monitoring. It is imperative that permitting fees and fines for non-compliance be high enough to cover administrative costs, frequent on-site inspection, and monitoring of air and water quality data.

Rules must be flexible enough to allow utilization of better technology as it becomes available for monitoring air and water quality and safe industry techniques.

We concur with the Sierra Club that proposed changes to the PBR and standard permit are long overdue. TCEQ began discussing some of these proposed (or similar rules) several years ago, but failed to enact them. Thus thousands of exploratory and production wells/ oil and gas facilities have been developed with minimal data and inadequate oversight by the TCEQ and the Texas Railroad Commission.

Oil and gas operators frequently take advantage of current Permit-by-Rule regulation to “stack” multiple wells and operations as separate facilities, avoiding the need for a standard permit or individual permit, despite large emissions. Stacking should be prohibited.
New rules should facilitate better access to reliable data for safe operation, maintenance, oversight and corporate decision making.

They should increase timely availability of verifiable information to TCEQ, Railroad Commission, EPA, local governmental authorities, the public and the media, and promote better communication between operators, regulators, and local planners and the public in solving joint challenges to the community. This is especially crucial in EPA non-attainment and near non-attainment areas, since data shows that emissions from gas production, storage and transmission in the DFW Metroplex equals or surpasses all non O&G industry achievements in attempting to reach acceptable clean air attainment levels.

The definition of “facility” should be clarified to help avoid the practice of stacking. Modifying the current Permit-by-Rule regulation to eliminate “stacking” multiple wells and operations as separate facilities for inspection and compliance activities, should promote implementation of Best Available or Maximum Available Control Technology while minimizing substandard operations.

Current site inventories should be mandatory and electronically recorded and reported by the operator to regulatory agencies for efficient oversight. Facility site plans should be certified by a professional engineer.

No well should go on-line before it has passed all TCEQ, Railroad Commission and EPA inspections/standards. Immediate reporting of changes in well/production status and or inspection/ monitoring data should be posted within 48 hours on the state agency’s website and be easily searchable by citizens, NGOs, media, law makers, lease holders and regulators.
Every production site should be referenced by the actual street address where the site is physically located and the reporting data should be searchable on the website by street address or geo address. Links to this data should be available to citizens on websites of the city or county where the facility is located.

The site inventory of equipment is especially important for assessment of fugitive emissions from evaporate tanks and emissions from non-fixed equipment. Utilization of non-stationary motorized equipment should accurately be reported. Current rules do not include regulation of non-fixed site equipment, yet excessive numbers of trucks, generators, and drills on one site contributes to air, noise and vibrations and creates problems to health and safety in neighborhoods. New TCEQ Rules should include oversight of non-stationary diesel equipment and place limits on the number of non-fixed equipment on any site in residential neighborhoods. Reliable site inventory records should be maintained and tabulated for utilization in inspections, rule application and effective decision making.

Every site should have clearly visible signs at the entrances stating name of owner, name of subcontractor/operator, safety officer, contact numbers and the number(s) of TCEQ/Railroad Commission/EPA where citizens can call to report possible violations or hazards to health and safety.

Operators should employ available technology to prevent and/or recapture emissions and hold ambient emission to levels which comply with state and federal standards. Operations failing to comply with these standards should incur fines high enough to cover frequent inspections and verification of continuous monitoring activities by the TCEQ, Railroad Commission, and EPA, and possible shut-down of facility and all related costs.
We oppose the proposal to create a two-tiered PBR because it will complicate effective regulation and cost-effective operation without adequately promoting necessary levels of verification and compliance.

No operator in or adjacent to urban areas or non-EPA Air Quality Attainment areas should be allowed to vent gases unless it is the last resort to prevent a larger blow-out.
We believe that TCEQ’s PBR rules should comply with EPA’s rules and standards. Therefore, we propose that TCEQ confer with EPA about acceptance of proposed PBR rules before they are enacted. TCEQ rules should be flexible enough to reflect any future changes in Federal Regulation, or to include adoption of better technologies.

If PBR’s are allowed they should be re-licensed at least every three years.
Accelerated rule implementation timeframes are imperative for adoption of these new TCEQ rules. It is mandatory that rules go into effect within 90 days from enactment since they apply to human health and safety standards and provide oversight for industrial sites in residential neighborhoods which are regulated only by TCEQ, the Railroad Commission, and EPA.

It is recommended that the definition of “receptors” should be modified to include not only homes, churches, and schools, but also businesses and other places frequented by people, especially by the “most vulnerable individuals.” It is especially unfortunate, in our estimation, that the rules do not protect children on playgrounds, in parks and day care centers, and does not protect health-impaired individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and similar facilities. The rules should protect the health and safety of all residents (renters, surface owners without mineral rights and resident owners who sign mineral leases). All residences and places frequented by people within the agreed distances should be considered receptors.

Individuals should not be required to live within the immediate footprint of the facility in order to report health and safety concerns to the TCEQ, Railroad Commission or EPA.

Any complaint or report to TCEQ should trigger a report by TCEQ to the Railroad Commission, EPA, and to local governmental health and environmental authorities (city/county) and to School District and local water district(s).

Investigations should be completed within 14 days or less and report of findings published on the TCEQ website.TCEQ should notify local governmental entities of the link to the data so that it can be incorporated into the local governmental entities’ websites. It is recommended that the Local Government Code be modified to require that local governments post links to these reports on their websites to promote better communication with the community, and to better protect the health and welfare of vulnerable citizens. If the Local Government Code is not modified, it is recommended that TCEQ request that local governments post links to these reports on their websites.

Samples of air, water and soil should be taken prior to commencement of construction on O&G facilities to create a baseline. Air samples should be taken in the morning and afternoon and on both cold and hot days to account for variations in ozone. Air and water samples should be taken periodically, during fracking, and when any leak is detected. Soil samples should be taken at the pad site or storage site before construction commences for a baseline. Utilization of drilling mud and/or chemicals should be monitored. There is debate about what chemicals are added to drilling mud and fracking fluids. Many manufacturers claim that their content is proprietary and do not label or disclose additives. Drilling mud samples should be tested for heavy metals or additives which could pollute water and soil and/or endanger human health and safety, or endanger wildlife, or contaminate the food chain if fruits and vegetables are grown on reclaimed sites after end of production. When an operation goes into maintenance or goes out of production, soil and water samples should be taken to compare with the base samples taken prior to the commencement of construction. Operators are responsible for all expenses incurred in reclaiming the environment back to the baseline level.
Bonding levels for operators should reflect these possible costs.

Authored and submitted by co-founders:
Faith Chatham
Steve Blair
Harriet Irby

Thursday, June 25, 2009