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MarkWest Compressor Station to Spray Natural Gas into residential area for 20 hours TODAY
by Nastassja Noell Tuesday, Nov. 03, 2009 at 4:26 PM

Natural Gas Production requires gas to be pumped long distances from the well head through pipelines. The gas must first be cleaned of water, sulfur and other gas contaminants at compressor stations; the "sweetened" gas is then pushed down the pipeline by fossil fuel fired compressor engines. The chemist Wilma Subra calls these compressor stations "mini-refineries"; residents complain of constant headaches and strong nauseating smells. Dr. Subra's work has included studying the air quality around compressor stations in Dish Texas where extremely high levels of benzene, toluene, and other carcinogenic and neurotoxic compounds were found hanging in the air, breathed in by residents for the past few years of the natural gas boom. Keep compressor stations out of your community, and advocate for those families who are forced to have these toxic facilities in their backyards: the environmental protection agencies will not help us, their business is to coordinate industry interests.

MarkWest Compressor ...
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Reporting from Binghamton, NY: Residents reported burning eyes and lung problems two weeks ago when a MarkWest CNG compressor station in Mt. Pleasant, PA underwent "normal operational procedures" and for over an hour released a stream of high pressured natural gas. (see "Residents report Toxic Clouds of Gas near a MarkWest Compressor Station" 10/23/09) The gas was not "flared" -- that is, it was not burned off and was released raw, into the air, for nearby people to inhale. Tomorrow MarkWest will be releasing gas again at the same facility, this time the high pressured gas will be released for 20 hours.

In nearby Bedford County, Clearville farmers Wayne and Angel Smith have watched the death of many of the animals on their farm -- two cows, a horse, many cats, and all of their hens. Several of their neighbors have also lost cows and horses. There are three compressor stations surrounding the Smiths, all within 10 miles; there are also many drilling pads uphill from their farm. DEP press secretary Teresa Candori stated on the phone to Indymedia that the DEP does not perform air tests around compressor stations in Bedford County, despite many requests from residents to test the air around the Spectra Compressor station in Clearville.

A week after Spectra sprayed what they state is Omala Oil RL 329 over surrounding fields, residents were told by Spectra to not eat any of the crops, and to wash their skin thoroughly. The DEP arrived a week later to test surface water near the compressor station, and in at least two cases the DEP lab found toluene to be present in both the control and test sample -- an indication that toluene may be in the air. Residents report that the DEP "dropped communication" after residents requested that the air surrounding the compressor station be tested for toluene.

The DEP filed a notice of violation against Spectra Energy on September 16, citing unlawful conduct as defined by the Air Pollution Control Act, no significant actions have yet been taken against Spectra.

The DEP has proven, time and again, that it is not willing to take any serious measures to protect the public. All of its decisions center around the political and public relations needs of the gas corporations they protect. The DEP and other government agencies do not give a fuck about the people that live in the area, and exist solely as a political and legal buffer to insulate the gas companies from the anger of the people they are poisoning.

Early this fall, toxins such as benzene, toluene, and other harmful carcinogenic and neuro-toxic compounds were found near a compressor station in Dish, TX. Dish, TX is in the midst of rapid natural gas drilling that is tapping the Barnett Shale.

Residents in Dish, TX have been suffering from chronic problems with air quality for years, but just like in Pennsylvania, no state agency would respond to the complaints with formal air tests. After Chesapeake Energy finally performed an air test, claiming that there were no gas compounds leaking in the air surrounding the compressor station, residents voted to spend $10,000 on an air test performed by an independent environmental testing company. The independent test results showed the presence of benzene at extremely high levels -- 107 times the level the state acknowledges as being harmful for long term health, toluene was also present in high amounts. Chesapeake Energy claimed surprise, but the residents in Dish, who have been watching their livestock die and their health decrease, knew it all along. Unfortunately, the proof comes after much damage has already been done. And the gas companies just get to move along, begin killing people and destroying the land somewhere else, under the protection of another batch of sleazy bureaucrats and police thugs.

In order for gas to be pushed down the pipeline, first many of contaminants such as sulfur and water are removed from the gas at the compressor station facility. Fossil fuel powered engine compressors then push the natural gas away from the drilling areas and to a central refinery. From Texas to Pennsylvania, residents who live near compressor stations complain of constant headaches and nausea, especially from the gas condensate which drips onto the ground and carries strongly nauseating kerosene-like fumes down wind.

Contact the DEP and demand that the air, soil, and water surrounding compressor stations be tested regularly, and that the results be provided, free of charge, to the public. Request any information you can get from them, and publish it. Demand the compressor stations to be moved far away from residences and waterways -- demand that they are not in your community at all. Warn your neighbors about CNG compression stations -- the more active wells there are in your area, the more compressor stations will be built in your community. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can override any local decision. Call the FERC and tell them to keep compressor stations out of your community, out of all of our communities.

Our health and the health of the land we live on is more important than their desire to live extravagantly. Force them out of your community.

Interview with Wilma Subra on WHRW Binghamton's "The Point" 10/20/2009
by Nastassja Noell Tuesday, Nov. 03, 2009 at 4:26 PM

audio link: MP3 at 27.5 mebibytes

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Wilma Subra PhD is a chemist from Texas who has been fighting for environmental justice causes for over 40 years. She recently analyzed air tests from a compressor station in Dish TX, where levels of benzene was 107 times the amount determined to cause long term problems such as cancer. This interview with her is 30 minutes long, and discusses issues related the natural gas production: water pollution with radioactive heavy metals and Halliburton's chemicals, air pollution with many VOC's that are known neurotoxins and carcinogens.

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