The Barnett Shale, the birthplace of fracking, is still a big polluter

The Texas Permian Basin is not the only area with massive emissions. The Barnett Shale in North Texas is doing its part creating health impacts for neighbors and accelerating the climate crisis by dumping more methane into our atmosphere. Methane is over 100 times more powerful at warming our planet than carbon dioxide in the near term.

The video below was recorded at the Colt Midstream Springtown Gas Processing Plant February 1, 2024. I was at the site at about 3:00 and the emissions continued when I left at 4:30

The fracking boom started in the Barnett Shale in north Texas. George Mitchell, the father of fracking, married the two technologies, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in my Wise County backyard. I spent the first night on my 42-acres on June 19, 1996, and the first successful shale well was drilled in 1997. A lot of brutal experimentation happened before that successful well.

had a ringside seat to the sneak preview: Fracking Impacts. I collected the first ever case studies showing impacts to health and water, published in Flowback: How the Texas Natural Gas Boom Affects Health and Safety in April 2011.

The impacts are still happening. Downwind from this Colt Midstream plant, people smell strange odors. They and their animals are sick, some with serious injuries. This site is across the highway from a school and an athletic field.

I was at the Colt Midstream site for over an hour. The gas was releasing with such force that it made a very loud hissing sound.  The workers could obviously hear the noise yet they did nothing to stop the release. One worker approached us, but quickly walked away when we pointed out the release. Then he drove his truck to where he could get pictures of my license plate. (That information comes in handy for harassment purposes.)

Finally, I called the sheriff who transferred me to the fire department. I described what was happening, my qualifications and experience. I described precisely the location and color of my vehicle. They drove past us straight to the plant’s office. That’s like asking the arsonist if there’s a fire before going to put out the fire.

I made an official complaint to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and to the Environmental Protection Agency. One landowner whose daughter has been seriously injured by toxins on her property had environmental testing. It was determined the benzene, toluene and other toxics found in her body did not originate on her property. She contacted her representative, Dr. Lynn Stucky whose office has yet to be of any help.

We will follow through with the complaint process while keeping our eye on the facility and gathering more data while working closely with neighboring landowners.

All my videos are peer reviewed by a Level III thermographer who also teaches and certifies industry, government and private thermographers.

James (Tim) Doty, TCHD Consulting LLC

After reviewing the OGI images, I have the following comments:

On the afternoon of Thursday, February 1, 2024, Oilfield Witness Director Ms. Sharon Wilson used a Teledyne FLIR G620 optical gas imaging (OGI) camera to assess the Colt Midstream Springtown Gas Processing Plant that is located near the Parker and Wise County border line in northeast Texas. During the assessment from 15:36 – 16:30, it was quickly obvious that a storage tank battery within the processing plant was emitting a tremendous quantity of uncontrolled hydrocarbon gas, as documented in six different video images. Recorded in both the automatic and high-sensitivity modes, the images clearly documented high-pressure rooftop emissions in a variety of palettes including but not limited to grayscale and lava. The images were extremely troubling, as the huge plume moved from right to left within the recordings making ground contact as the emissions could be seen moving along the sidewalls of multiple storage tanks. The gaseous pollutants were unheated as documented by the instrument’s span temperature readings, and thus the uncontrolled emission plume posed a clear and present danger to the nearby community and any downwind receptors. These dangerous conditions will likely continue until maintenance and engineering changes are made at the site.

This incident at Springtown highlights the health threats that oil and gas drilling creates. For Texans to breathe clean air, we must slow the rate of oil and gas production. Unfortunately this has not happened during the Biden administration. These horrible emissions from Colt Midstream remind us that the climate emergency is not only fueled by the Permian Basin climate bomb in west Texas, but also the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas, the Haynesville Shale east Texas, and of course–the birthplace of fracking where I live–the Barnett Shale in north Texas.

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