No TCEQ violations in the April 19 blowout

A final report was released by investigators with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Aug. 6 that found no violations of state environmental rules related to the gas well blowout April 19.

TCEQ is one of two state agencies on hand during the local emergency that required homes in the area to be evacuated and traffic at the airport to be re-directed.

The final report is a mix of the investigator’s findings and self-reporting on the part of officials at EagleRidge, the operator of the well.

In the 29-page report, the investigators noted the smell of hydrocarbons near the end of the 14 hours the well was releasing both gas and production fluids. Results from upwind and downwind samples were included, as were readings from TVA (toxic vapor analyzer).

A toxic vapor analyzer is a hand-held tool that measures a wide variety of organic pollutants in aggregate. Downwind, as the well was being brought back under control, the TVA read 202 parts-per-million, the inspector said. About 30 minutes after the well was capped, the TVA dropped to “non-detection,” according to the report.

The report includes a map of sampling locations.

Although there was a large difference in the number of air pollutants detected with Summa canisters placed upwind and downwind from the well, TCEQ said none of the concentrations were high enough to exceed “air monitoring comparison values” for either short-term or long-term exposure, which could have triggered enforcement action.

Furthermore, calculations based on an engineering analysis of pressure and a sample of the gas coming from the wellhead didn’t show enough gas had escaped to qualify as a “reportable event,” and thus trigger enforcement action. A total of 5,000 pounds of natural gas volatile organic compounds make an event reportable. Estimates put natural gas VOCs emissions at 1,281 pounds within the 83.4 MCF or so of gas released, according to the report.




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