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Resident-Funded Testing Confirms 'Worst Fears' for Fracking and Flowback Emissions

Energy

Earthworks

Today, Colleyville and Southlake residents and Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project released results from local residents’ privately-funded air testing of Titan Operations’ “mini-frack” on the border of both communities. The tests, performed by GD Air Testing Inc. of Richardson, Texas, prove emissions released during fracking and flowback contain dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.

“We paid for tests because we can’t depend on the city or the fracking industry,” said Colleyville resident Kim Davis. “The tests confirmed our worst fears, while Colleyville ignored their own tests to let fracking continue. Apparently the city represents Titan and the gas industry instead of local residents,” she said.

Colleyville City ordinances expressly prohibit the release of any gases: “No person shall allow, cause or permit gases to be vented into the atmosphere or to be burned by open flame.”

The community-funded test results, which detected twenty-six chemicals, also showed carbon disulfide, a neurotoxin at twice the state level for short-term exposure. Benzene, a known carcinogen, and Naphthalene, a suspected carcinogen, were both over state long-term exposure levels by more than 9 times and more than 7 times, respectively. Carbonyl sulfide, dimethyl disulfide and Pyridine were all detected above safe limits for long-term exposure.

Gordon Aalund, an MD with toxicology training who lives in Southlake and practices emergency medicine said, “Exceeding long and short term exposure limits to these toxics places us all at increased and unneeded risk. When your government fails to protect you and the company cannot be trusted, private citizens are forced to act.”

The Colleyville results indirectly confirm the suspicions of Arlington-area residents about air pollution from ongoing Chesapeake Energy fracking and flowback operations in their neighborhood since December 2011. Residents who experienced health impacts were told by Chesapeake that flowback emissions were only "steam." When challenged to substantiate its claims with public testing, the company failed to respond.

“It’s great that concerned citizens in the Colleyville-area have the wherewithal to pay for their own testing when government fails to do its job. But I live in southeast Arlington, where our community doesn’t have the resources to do government’s job for it,” said Arlington resident Chuck Harper. “Why isn’t TCEQ doing these tests? If the watchdog isn’t watching, who do we turn to for protection?”

“It’s state and local failures like these that make plain the need to close fracking loopholes in federal environmental laws,” said Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project Organizer Sharon Wilson. “When TCEQ can’t be bothered to protect their own citizens, when cities ignore their own laws, when companies lie to communities left, right and center, there’s nowhere else to turn."

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