A study to be released next week says that natural gas drilling operations produce high levels of pollution.
The study, which will be presented to the Fort Worth Independent School District board on Tuesday, recommends such operations be kept one mile from schools.
Three months ago, several local researchers and the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods Association commissioned a study to see how dangerous pollutants from gas drilling operations are to schoolchildren when the board considered granting leases within 1,200 feet of school grounds.
"When you start actually looking at the levels of carbon disulfide, it's shocking," said Deborah Rogers, who has been involved in the league and monitoring natural gas drilling for the last several years. "People are going to be concerned."
Rogers said some publicly known industry data was used in the report, but that most companies did not cooperate with the study.
One of Chesapeake Energy's drilling sites was monitored by the study, but the company declined to comment on the specific recommendations because the report has not yet been released to the public.
"Created by a biased panel using questionable methods, the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods Association report is obviously designed to prey on the unfounded fears of parents, teachers and school board trustees," Chesapeake spokesman Brian Murnahan said. "Since this organization has refused to release a copy of the report to the public, even though several requests have been made, everyone should question its motives."
Others in the industry say that it is hard to comment without seeing the details of the report, but say that the one-mile recommendation is extreme.
"The existing city (of Fort Worth) regulations say 600 feet," Ed Ireland of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council said. "One mile is actually an impossible goal."
League representatives say they don't want the drilling to stop, just be safer for the community.
"They have the right to drill; people have the right to harvest their minerals, but it must be done responsibly," Rogers said. "It must be; it's as simple as that."
Burton Hill Elementary in North Fort Worth was one of two sites targeted by the study because several drilling operations are within a mile of the campus.
The full study will be released next week, but the league released its recommendations Thursday night.
Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods Association Study Recommendations
The study makes the following recommendations for all Fort Worth ISD leases going forward:
- Setbacks of approximately one mile from the school boundaries are needed to ensure that emissions of carbon disulfide (neurotoxin), benzene (carcinogen) and other drilling toxics do not exceed 8 hour limits for short term health benchmarks (See Dispersion Modeling Results).
- The use of electric drill rigs, electric compressor engines and electric motors for driving any other stationary gas field infrastructure must be implemented on sites near schools.
- Condensate/produced water tanks should be independently monitored for control of VOC emissions.
- Vapor recovery units to be used when appropriate.
- No-bleed pneumatic valves and fittings should be used on pipeline networks near schools.
- Green completions should be used.
- Substitutions for toxic field materials (e.g. proppants, solvents, friction reducers, acid neutralizers, paints, etc.) near school properties must be used when non-polluting options are available.
- Testing and monitoring should be carried out for the life of the wells by an independent entity. The operators should not be allowed to provide testing results under any circumstances. All testing should be done without the operators prior knowledge.
The study also makes the following recommendations on natural gas pipelines near FWISD schools:
- The FWISD should require in bid documents the location, diameter, and pressure information of existing or proposed pipelines needed to serve any school owned tracts;
- The FWISD should require operators to provide maintenance and inspection information about pipelines under or near school owned tracts on a regular basis;
- The FWISD should require pipeline companies to provide adequate liability insurance ($100,000,000) for any pipelines on school property or whose Potential Impact Radius overlaps school property (see sample agreements in the appendix to this report).
- The FWISD should review each Potential Impact Radius of existing and proposed pipelines as determined by the industry developed C-Fer Study and acknowledge that they are aware of that impact radius before leases are signed.
- If leases are signed and pipelines laid on school property, or in close proximity, the FWISD should review the recommendations of the national Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance before any new buildings or expansions of existing buildings are approved on that impacted property.
- In conjunction with the city of Fort Worth, the FWISD should develop adequate maps locating all existing natural gas pipelines in relation to all FWISD school properties. The FWISD should review the locations of the existing pipelines in conjunction with a review all current site-based evacuation plans for FWISD properties. Where necessary, the FWISD should revise the emergency evacuation plans for schools to provide greater safety in a gas pipeline emergency.