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Sister Elizabeth Riebschlaeger, ELEEP Virtual Discussion: Citizen Monitoring of Fracking Activities


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This presentation was given during an ELEEP Virtual Discussion on "Citizen Monitoring of Fracking Activities" on July 26, 2016. A video recording of the event is available on the ELEEP Network YouTube Channel -

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Sister Elizabeth Riebschlaeger, ELEEP Virtual Discussion: Citizen Monitoring of Fracking Activities

  1. 1. eleep presentation July 26, 2016 Sr. Elizabeth Riebschlaeger, ccvi from the Eagle Ford Shale Environmental and Public Health Threats to Workers, Families and Communities
  2. 2. Content: Impacts of A. Drilling, Fracking Activities B. Production, Midstream and Storage Facilities (including flares) C. Transport: Roads and Pipelines D. Waste Disposal: Liquid Injection Wells and Solid Waste Processing Facilities
  3. 3. Stories of Workers, Families and Communities A. Workers at Frack Sites: Chemicals, Frack Sand, Explosions, Fires, Falls, etc. B. Flaring and Venting practices C. The Lara Family and their neighbors D. Pipelines: Lindenau explosion; Big Bend Conservation Alliance, Mexico Protest E. Gillette Injection Well Explosion F. Altair Solid Waste Disposal (in operation) G. Nordheim Protest of Pyote 200 acre site H. . . .and for the generations to come??
  4. 4. Workers at risk: • Explosives • Frack sand • Chemicals
  5. 5. Flaring not in compliance: Unburned VOC’s . . . • pass through heat of flame, • molecules break down • then rearrange themselves into • even more toxic chemicals • escape into the environment • appear as black smoke trail • become part of surrounding air • are absorbed into the soil Phillips-Conoco site, 2010, outside Kenedy, Karnes County, Texas
  6. 6. Same site during the day. This continued 24/7 for months until the plant was completed and pipelines laid. Flares are now extinguished. Note paint peeling off metal sign, probably due to air contamination.
  7. 7. FLIR Infra Red Camera picture taken by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) during their flyover. Black smoke contains toxic cmissions being vented, invisible to the human eye.
  8. 8. Families and Communities at Risk
  9. 9. Family of Longino and Raquel Lara of Kenedy. They have had to leave their home outside Kenedy to escape the emissions and flaring from an Encana facility behind their home (Patton Trust South). FLIR videos of emissions taken by Sharon Wilson and posted on U-tube can be seen there.)
  10. 10. View of Encana facility with flare circled in red. Next to flame, the Lara home can be seen on the horizon on the hill. Distance is approximately 100 yards between the home and the facility. Toxic odors are often noted at the homesite. Family members have had eye irritation, nosebleeds, nausea and headaches—all symptoms of exposure to toxic chemicals common to these sites. At a doctor’s advice, they have moved to a rented trailer.
  11. 11. Picture of flare taken at night from front yard of Lara home. Note billowing black smoke from flare—all more toxic than regular VOCs that come to the surface from the well. The wind sometimes blows the smoke to the property, where odors fill the home.
  12. 12. A large compressor station on CR 211 south of Falls City, TX (Karnes County). Purpose is to repressurize the product being sent by pipeline to keep it flowing to its destination. This location has a history of being problematic. The couple living near the compressor were told to move by his doctor or they would be “dead in a year”. A lawsuit followed, was settled out of court, and improvements made to the facility. It is destined to eventually be shut down. Note emergency breathing equipment in yellow box.
  13. 13. Picture taken by Greenpeace 1 day after Encana blowout, April 2015. Dead vegetation is the brown areas. Lara home is at far top right hand corner. Families were told to evacuate and remained out of their homes for over a week. Some received buy outs; others were compensated for dead livestock.
  14. 14. TRANSPORT: PIPELINE RUPTURES, SPILLS AND EXPLOSIONS Energy Transfer’s 42’ pipeline ruptured, exploded and burned in the tiny community of Lindenau last year around 8:30 PM. Cattle broke through the fence to escape the fire, which melted the pavement. This picture was taken by a woman in Gonzales County, who was 40 miles away. Energy Transfer is the pipeline company seeking a permit to build another 42” pipeline in the Big Bend area of Texas.
  15. 15. Environmental cleanup of hydrocarbons that fell on a pasture near Nordheim after a newly laid pipeline ruptured and spewed the product 50 feet into the air. This location is near the permitted solid waste treatment facility, which will straddle a similar pipeline.
  16. 16. Venting and fugitive emissions from pipelines, storage facilities and compressors allow tons of methane into the environment. Many emissions are invisible to the human eye, but often have a perceptible impact on human health and the environment. In this picture, workers are seen venting pipelines, which is permitted.
  17. 17. The use or abuse of Eminent Domain?? West Texas ranchers and citizens have organized the Big Bend Conservation Alliance to oppose the permitting of a 42” pipeline from West Texas, through the Alpine area. The pipeline will be joined to a similar pipeline being built in Mexico at the Rio Grande. Terminus will be on Topolobampo Bay at Baja California, where an Liquification Natural Gas (LNG) plant is to be built for export of fossil fuel products on the global market, especially natural gas. The Eagle Ford Shale region extends into Coahuila, MX from South Texas.
  18. 18. • Drilling and Flowback (a mixture of drilling mud, lubricants, fracking chemicals and salt water) produce tons of liquid and solid waste. Waste that is less than 30% solids is considered liquid and disposed of in liquid disposal wells (seen here). The depth of a well is required to be below any water well or aquifer, but there is no requirement for tracking the lateral movement of the waste underground. This particular site exploded and burned, and had just been rebuilt at the time of the picture. Waste that is 30% or more solid undergoes a different treatment process.
  19. 19. Solid waste processing facility in Altair, Colorado County. The red area is the site of Rice Consolidated Independent School District’s facilities. This industry is exempted from many regulations that bind other industries that handle this hazardous material transported from drilling and fracking sites because of the pressure to move into unconventional production quickly. A hazmat carrier is required for highway transport to the site. From the point of entry to the site, it is treated as “non- hazardous”. Workers are told that the waste is non-hazardous, so no personal protective equipment is required.
  20. 20. Heavy equipment is seen being used to aerate the solid waste, allowing any VOC’s to be removed into the environment. The school administration and the neighbors living around this site in East Texas, west of Houston, have filed several complaints of odors coming off the site and trespassing on their properties. Operators have been fined several times by the TRC for storing tons more waste than their permit allows. The facility has changed operators a few times.
  21. 21. Skull Creek, swollen by recent heavy rains, runs through the waste facility, through a rancher’s land and eventually into the Colorado River.
  22. 22. Area in red outlines the 200 acre site. It is almost as large as the town of Nordheim, see at left of the site. It would be ¼ mile from the city limits and ½ mile from the school. Residents of Nordheim and nearby ranchers organized Concerned About Pollution (CAP) to file a formal protest against the permit. They have succeeded in delaying the permit for three years. Although it was recently permitted by the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC), they have now filed to sue the Railroad Commission for not giving them due process.