Public statements by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, offered up for expediency — we guess, because some of the stuff we hear defies logic — and make us wonder who is “the deciders” down in Austin.
After EDB showed up in our community, “the deciders” decided to throw the agency’s lab and investigators under the bus.
We’re betting the conversation around the water cooler was pretty chilly on Monday.
And, we’ve got to say, we’ve had some interesting telephone conversations since Sunday’s story. We’ve got more to share.
First, some background.
To read results of the Summa samples, TCEQ uses a machine that has a limited viewing range. Think about a cropping tool for a Facebook photo that you cannot adjust. Therefore, to read something that spikes outside the viewing range, they have to dilute the sample. The more they dilute, the more likely there is to be some distortion of those smaller concentrations.
Now to our response.
Important Point #1. We would like to remind the community that there have been more than 50 samples taken here. About 12 percent noted detects of EDB, that’s about six times the average detected across the Barnett Shale.
Important Point #2. From over here in the peanut gallery, it looks to be pretty piss-poor policy to dilute in order to quantify the “spikes” — which tend to be compounds like propane and ethane. The monitoring values for those compounds are in the tens of thousands of parts-per-billion. Is TCEQ really trying to establish threats of explosion or asphyxiation? Seriously? Is that REALLY how bad they think the operators operate?
Color us naive.
Important Point #2a. It seems better use of our precious tax dollars to get good readings of those neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors and carcinogens, like benzene, carbon tetrachloride and our favorite, EDB. That’s what costs the community a lot of money — million-dollar cancer cases, premature deaths from asthma attacks, and birth defects that burden families and taxpayers for the duration of a human life.
We don’t like headaches and nosebleeds, but ibuprofen in the 500-count bottle is pretty cheap.
Important Point #3. The day investigators brought back two samples at the Gulftex flare, the lab had an opportunity to dilute one and not the other. But they were more worried about upwind and downwind. We are skeptical of the value of that. Why? There are plenty of air dispersion models from flares. We doubt any of them look like an ice cream cone on its side. They look like fried eggs after the yolk broke.
Important Point #4. We’ve been told that nationwide, researchers looking at air samples in other shale areas do not find EDB. EDB is showing up ONLY in Texas. We have an operating theory, and we’re keeping that to ourselves for now. Because obviously, we didn’t hand over big enough of a silver platter.
We can call it clumsy community relations to say your scientists aren’t scientists. But tying the hands of your investigators as mountains of evidence are being handed to them speaks volumes about “the deciders.”
The folks in the lab coats can dust off the tire tracks. Austin needs some new fall suits.