Interim Fort Worth Air Quality Report Partly Miscalculated

Company says preliminary data still subject to change

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    GAYLORD, MI - JULY 17: Randy Krum stands by as water under pressure drains from a string of drill pipe he is connecting on a natural gas well being drilled for Ward Lake Energy July 17, 2003 near Gaylord, Michigan. A nationwide shortage in natural gas will cause higher prices for residential and commercial customers this winter, according to national experts. U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan told a U.S. Senate committee earlier this month that a previous cold winter, aging natural gas fields and other factors have caused the shortage in natural gas, which could lead to changes in consumer spending patterns and layoffs from companies that depend on the fuel to run their operations. Gas prices rose to more than double last year's prices earlier this month with no clear fix in the near future. (Photo by Andrew Sacks/Getty Images)

    A company testing for emissions said its interim report greatly exaggerated the levels of benzene above a Fort Worth gas drilling site.

    Eastern Research Group, which is conducting the study for the city, discovered what it called a small error. But that error caused major problems with preliminary results.

    The preliminary report said that a site at Mercado Drive, just north of downtown, was producing 103.78 tons per year of emissions. But after fixing the miscalculation, it turns out the site only produces 0.353 tons per year.

    "It was very unfortunate that there was a mistake in that data," city spokesman Jason Lamers said. "We've made that correction with ERG, and we've assured that ERG won't make that mistake again."

    Study Commissioned on Safety of Drilling Near Schools

    [DFW] Study Commissioned on Safety of Drilling Near Schools
    Local researchers and the Fort Worth League of Neighborhood Association want drilling platforms pushed back to one mile away from schools.

    Eastern Research Group had not fully completed the second phase of the seven-part study when the City Council was briefed in February after it asked for an update. The briefing on the preliminary data showed that the Mercado Drive site and another well site were producing more emissions then they are supposed to.

    The Mercado Drive site is operated by Chesapeake Energy, which is cooperating with the study.

    "Chesapeake is pleased that Eastern Research Group's calculation error -- which overstated the emissions at our Mercado site by more than 300 times -- has been identified and corrected," spokesman Brian Murnahan said in a statement. "We appreciate the additional quality assurance precautions ERG has put into place and look forward to the release of the final report. "

    The complete data collection and analysis are still months away from completion, which means all numbers are subject to change.

    But if there's a silver lining to the mistake, it's that emissions are better than first thought.

    "Only one well now has an elevated level we need to take a look at with the state, so overall things are going pretty well, so that's good news," Lamers said.

    The completed report is due June 30.