Results from new state-of-the-art air monitors installed by the TCEQ in the DISH and Eagle Mountain Lake areas went online today so that citizens can have real-time information about local air quality 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These monitors were installed in response to concerns about the effects of air emissions from oil and gas operations in the Barnett Shale area of North Texas, and will provide a better and more usable picture of air conditions in the area.


The monitors are called auto-GC (gas chromatograph) monitors, and provide near-real-time air quality readings.  Hourly averages of the readings will be posted on the TCEQ website.  The monitors test for 46 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including benzene. They also provide total non-methane VOC concentrations and meteorological data, which is important in analyzing air quality readings.

The DISH and Eagle Mountain Lake monitors are located in the midst of oil and gas production activities. The TCEQ is also evaluating locations for two additional monitors to be installed in the Barnett Shale in fall 2010.


Data from the monitors will be posted online.  The site can also be found from the TCEQ’s home page, where a link to the agency’s comprehensive Barnett Shale Web page is located.  In addition to data from the two new monitors, the TCEQ will also post data from two other long-time auto-GCs—one in Fort Worth and one in Dallas.


Since the agency began focused efforts on oil and gas operations in the Barnett Shale with helicopter over flights in 2007, numerous activities have occurred:

·         Five large mobile monitoring surveys involving hundreds of sampling points have been completed.  In March of this year, a mobile monitoring study collected additional samples in areas where benzene was found at higher than desired levels.  Results of that monitoring study continue to be analyzed.  This week, the TCEQ Mobile Response Team is sampling new and previously sampled areas in the City of Fort Worth. The city will also be performing a monitoring survey of their own later in 2010,  and the TCEQ is coordinating its efforts to make sure the two studies are not duplicative.  The TCEQ is performing a series of helicopter flights over the area, using a GasFindIR camera to look for emissions and will follow up with companies on any identified emissions.  The GasFindIR is a technology that can remotely detect, visualize and record VOC emissions that are invisible to the naked eye.

·         Six new air inspectors have been hired and are on the job at the TCEQ’s DFW regional office.  New complaint response procedures direct staff to investigate all complaints in the Barnett Shale area within 12 hours. More than 124 complaints have been investigated since Dec. 17, 2009.