The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

District formulates plan to monitor air for possible toxins

By Edna Horton/managing editor

With reports of potential air contamination in the news, TCC plans to survey the natural gas wells on three campuses. Chesapeake Energy will monitor the rigs as well to verify air quality. Collegian file photo
With reports of potential air contamination in the news, TCC plans to survey the natural gas wells on three campuses. Chesapeake Energy will monitor the rigs as well to verify air quality.
Collegian file photo

TCC has initiated plans to monitor air pollution around gas well sites on three of its five campuses.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recently conducted tests over 94 gas well sites in the Barnett Shale region. Two of the sites tested revealed extremely high air levels of benzene, a chemical that could cause cancer. Other sites had elevated levels of the chemical.

Steven Kleypas, TCC director of environmental management, said the college knows of the potential for air contamination at or around the gas wells.

“We have already begun to formulate plans for external monitoring of the well sites,” he said. “This will take time and design to implement. However, we believe that this is the best course of action.”

Kleypas said the city and Chesapeake Energy will also monitor the gas wells to verify no air contamination exists.

Dr. David Wells, former vice chancellor of operations and development for TCC, said gas wells are currently on three campuses: South, NE and SE.

Wells said the only well with production going to market at this time is on South Campus. Wells said both the NE and SE campuses at this time have not completed pipelines to gather and transport gas to market.

Dr. Woody Kageler, NE director of health sciences, said one of the major medical effects of exposure to benzene is acute monocytic leukemia. Kageler said those effects would appear after five to 15 years of long-term exposure. He said the acute effects of benzene exposure would be feeling sleepy.

“I don’t believe people should be overly concerned about the acute effects of benzene in the air,” he said. “The wind keeps it moving, and the chemical will dissipate.”

Kageler said if benzene is in the ground water, it could become a much more serious problem. He said the chemical would be unavoidable in the water.

David Hoelke, TCC director of system infrastructure, said the college does not have plans for testing the soil and water around well sites.

Hoelke said if there was any reasonable doubt of air or water contamination, the city would test for contaminants. Hoelke said if any kind of problem presents itself, then monitoring of the sites will escalate.

Kleypas said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recently released a report to the Fort Worth City Council about monitoring they did on gas well sites in Tarrant County.

“In it, they did not find anything in any of their sampling and testing that would warrant a stoppage of gas well drilling or production,” he said.

Results of the commission’s report on gas well monitoring in Tarrant County can be found at www.tceq.state.tx.us.

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