4

Texas Drillers Lead the Nation in Pumping Benzene into Earth, Which Is Not Good

^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Slip through the right series of loopholes and it can be perfectly legal to inject benzene into oil wells. Naturally, drillers in Texas figured this out thousands of gallons of benzene ago.

Using data disclosed by the oil industry, a new report calculates all the benzene that is legally going into wells across the country. There's a lot, it turns out, and it's mostly in Texas.

The winner of the benzene race is San Antonio-based BlackBrush O&G, which injected a fluid containing as much as 48,000 gallons of benzene into a well in Dimmit County. In second place is Discovery Operating Services, a company that pumped 1,000 gallons of benzene into 11 wells across Midland and Upton counties.

The report is authored by Eric Schaeffer, who served as director of the Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement division before resigning in protest in 2002 and forming the Environmental Integrity Project activism group.

Benzene is a likely carcinogen, so while accidents can and do happen anywhere, the stakes are higher when there's a cancer-causer involved. As the Environmental Integrity Project report argues, "even a small leak into a drinking water aquifer nearer the surface can be catastrophic."

We already knew that Texas leads the nation in illegally injecting diesel fluid into fracking wells. Diesel-based fracking fluid is illegal without a permit because it's supposedly more toxic.

See also: Texas Leads the Nation in Illegally Injecting Diesel into Wells, Which Is Not a Good Thing

But it turns out that some of the legal, non-diesel fluids on the market are far worse. Using companies' material safety data sheets, the Environmental Integrity Project found that there are 21 non-diesel fluids on the market than contain "much higher concentrations" of benzene, as well as xylene and toluene, which are also bad for you.

The companies that supply the fracking fluid are, in theory, the ones that should know about the high benzene content. The Environmental Integrity Project identified Texas Midstream Transport and Halliburton as two major suppliers.

Of course, further regulation would kill jobs, every industry ever has argued. A counter-argument for that is the recent peer-reviewed study described by the Centers for Disease Control that says that fracking workers charged with gauging tanks face "an occupational exposure risk during certain flowback work" due to benzene.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.