Emissions estimated for Friday’ gas leak

A “emissions event” report to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality attempts to count the hazardous air pollutants emitted with the gas well leak Friday on Jim Christal Road.

Some of the information is consistent with what nearby¬†residents told an NT Daily reporter — that the incident began for them about 3 a.m. Friday. Workers at the rig started having trouble at 1:30 a.m., according to the report. They realized by 8 a.m. that they had lost control of the well and evacuated the pad site. The company called the Texas Railroad Commission an hour or so later.

According to our story, the city got its first call about 11 a.m. The language of the operator’s role in helping residents of a nearby home is unclear, but city officials reported ordering the evacuation of four homes nearby.

The operator called for well control specialists and, according to the report, the well was capped and the valve shut at 3:39 p.m.

The “emissions event” was said to last for 7 hours and 39 minutes, which would start the clock on calculating what leaked at 8 a.m. The emissions are estimated based on a 500 MCF flow rate from the well and a gas sample from a nearby well, according to the report.

A number of hazardous air pollutants were estimated being emitted, including 59.61 pounds of benzene and 404.3 pounds of xylenes. The report narrative claimed to have also estimated the emissions of toluene and ethylbenzene, but no figures were published by TCEQ.

Benzene is a known human carcinogen. Xylene can affect the nervous system.

According to the city’s statement about the leak, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality took air samples when the well was leaking, but whether those would conflict or verify the estimated emissions is unclear. According to the National Weather Service, peak wind gusts reached 24 mph Friday.

It’s also unclear is whether the emissions would trigger any enforcement action by the TCEQ. According to the report, under normal operations, the well site is allowed to emit 10 tons per year each of benzene and xylene and 25 tons per year of butanes, pentanes and propanes.

UPDATE: Adam Briggle blogs about the accident from the community’s perspective.



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