FW leaders order report on Barnett Shale emissions

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by By CHRIS HAWES / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on November 18, 2009 at 12:08 PM

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth is preparing to take action concerning reports of high levels of the cancer-causing chemical benzene in air surrounding Barnett Shale natural gas facilities.

City leaders are concerned that the city may need to do more to protect its citizens.

The Fort Worth City Council met Tuesday night to discuss the issue.

"I don't think we can wait," said council member Kathleen Hicks, referring to an examination of the environmental impact of natural gas drilling in Fort Worth.

She said she is concerned after hearing News 8 reports of high levels of benzene, a cancer-causing toxin, found with the help of infrared cameras near some natural gas facilities in the Barnett Shale.

"I don't think we can frankly wait until the legislative session goes back in a year-and-a-half," Hicks said. "I think this is something we need to deal with as soon as possible."

Hicks, along with Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, directed city staffers Tuesday to compile a report on what's known about emissions. Questions include:

  • Who should be testing the air?
  • What are other cities are doing to protect their citizens?

For example, Colleyville is considering requiring air quality sampling during all phases of drilling as a condition for issuing drilling permits.

"We have to make sure we are doing our due diligence," Moncrief said. "That we are using whatever technology is available to us to make sure we look carefully at what effects are taking place."

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigators were back in the area on Tuesday, taking more air samples.  A complete report on what they find is expected by the end of the year.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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