JUne 12 obit 2015
June 2014 update
I was asked to contribute to this book so scroll half way down to see my info….
“Fracking: The Operations and Environmental Consequences of Hydraulic Fracturing”
By Michael D. Holloway, Oliver Rudd
July 24, 2011,ArlingtonTX
Hello world, I have been living in a natural gas extraction town for almost five years now. Detailed medical impacts of those living in the Barnett Shale have been requested. The most infamous story I have is the night of April 11, 2011 when two natural gas production drill sites spewed gases into two neighborhoods. This had Arlington 911 operators scrambling after realizing that identical events were unfolding across town at two different locations. When the electricity went out during a storm at two different compressor stations, it caused pressure to back up into the drill sites. When the primary automatic well shut in failed at both sites, the wells had to vent as a secondary safety measure. When preventing an explosion and PLAN B is gassing neighborhoods, then urban drilling is NOT in the interest of public health!
Fearing industry retaliation, I was asked not to use her real name so I’ll refer to her using the name of my childhood friend who died of leukemia back in 1978. Throughout this story I will attempt to show correlations to environmental toxins and those with symptoms. My childhood friend lived on a farm where diesel tractors and probably pesticides were prevalent. Only now after a year of studying drilling and toxic exposure information did I realize what may have led to her leukemia.
The night of the storm last April 2011 in Arlington TX, there was a citywide power outage. “Julie” opened up all the windows in her home and went back to bed only to be soon after awakened by the loud jet engine noise of the well venting off gasses.
Being downwind from a drill site I think is just as bad as being closer than 600 feet to a drillsite. “Julie” and her family have the misfortune of being about two blocks north of the Fulson drill site. Our prevalent winds come from the south, so her neighborhood is downwind from the Chesapeakesite. Her home quickly filled with fumes and she raced to close the windows and called 911 twice, the second time for medical attention. She was treated by EMT’s as she was sickened and began to experience a racing heart due to the gases in her home which blanketed the neighborhood with a heavy gas. This contaminant had a filthy odor. She missed work from the trauma of the evening and 47 hours later woke up with chattering teeth and the feeling of being icy cold. Julie was convinced her that her body was having some kind of response to the exposure. For over a week after the gas leak, she averaged 14 hours per day of sleep and was extremely exhausted and feeling weak.
Since drilling started in Julie’s area, she has complained to me of chronic foot pain, extreme fatigue, severe headaches – which once the site is not active, go away, and has suddenly developed a cataract, leaving her legally blind in one eye. (update she had the cataract removed- her doctor said this was unusual for her age).
Prior to drilling Julie loved to be in her backyard, but when the drilling arrived, she smells diesel fumes when the site is active. She tells me that some of her neighbors that were healthy are now sick, and some of her neighbors who had some previous health issues are now much worse and have new and different symptoms. (Update one of Julie’s family members had to go to the ER with kidney stones….also that person had an unexplained shoulder issue where mobility was very limited…all this months after the emission event.)
Even prior to the gas release she was telling me that one man died suddenly of an aneurism, and on the same street, a three-year old child with existing health issues prior to drilling died a year and a half after the drilling started. This neighborhood has residents suffering from fibromyalgia, as well as extreme malaise, weakness, fatigue, and intense headaches which are lasting weeks at a time. (update.. in retrospect Jane reflected back on her calendar to find that the human deaths and other neighborhood health issues were in the time frame of the first well being completed and we suspect it was not a green completion and that massive venting to the atmosphere took place).
One report I shared with our city council was after her daughter and her husband each had an unusual nosebleed a day apart and they have never had nosebleeds in the past. A couple of months after the gas leak, her husband went to the ER by ambulance with a urological emergency as well as kidney stones. He has lost all mobility in his right shoulder and fears failing a physical which would affect his ability to provide for his family.
Prior to the Fulson gas leak, a teenage boy down her street began having recurrent nose bleeds. A 12-year old neighbor girl had a nosebleed on December 20th, on the same day when a well was being fracked. Her 8-year old sister was later admitted to the hospital after the gas leak in June. She couldn’t move her extremities and was originally diagnosed with arthritis and then with a strange blood virus which is puzzling her doctor. The eight year old has now been diagnosed with anemia as well. One neighbor that had anemia most of her life mysteriously received a diagnosis of hemochromatosis (too much iron in the blood) after drilling got underway. Another neighbor developed fluid around her heart as well as thyroid issues. Note, that these folks are only a small handful of the thousands of others who live near the Fulson Site that Julie told me about. Their health effects are not known at this time since they have not yet been interviewed.
The elderly neighbor closest to the Fulson site had her grandkids move in (after drilling) and she has noticed an increase in respiratory issues. In addition, the young grandbaby holds her hands over her ears and cries because the noise is so painful and frightening to listen to. The woman would frequently have to evacuate by car and go to Wal-Mart and walk around during the active times of the drilling and fracking to avoid the strong fumes and noise. One night they had to go to a hotel to escape the fumes. Most recently, I am told that the grandmother now has a rash that has the doctors baffled. She gets her water from her well. I was shocked to learn that she is not on municipal water like everyone else.
Two homes on municipal water near the Fulson site had reports of milky white looking water that later dissipates. I actually had a sample of a white milky fluid from the plumbing water pipe coming out of the ground at an Arlingtonpark that burst after the hard freeze in February. I videotaped and the flow of water leaving a trail of white, taffy like residue before it went into the Trinity East. Later I would try to tell council about these milky white water reports only to be police escorted out of the council chambers like I was some terriorist with an unidentified substance!
After the Fulson emission event, I was at the mall with my 14 year old and his friend, Walker, who lived in the area and I asked him how he was doing since he was also about 1,200 feet downwind from the Ragland Site. He said funny I should ask as he just got out of the hospital. Walkerwas ill just hours after the Fulson event and was hospitalized on April 12 with a 105 fever and a swollen neck/enlarged lymph nodes. They were still huge when I felt one of them weeks later. He was on an IV drip and they used aspirins to control the fever. It is still unknown why his lymph nodes in his neck swelled up like that. PoorWalkeris sandwiched between the Fulson site and the Ragland drill site. It was scary when I realized that my son visitedWalkerthe night before the Fulson gas leak.
How coincidental it is that two days before the Fulson site event that I learned of another teenager name Eric was hospitalized with similar symptoms of a 106 fever and a swollen neck. He too lives by a drill site near theArlingtonAirport. He did, however, test positive for mono and an extreme case of strep. He is a hockey player and I wondered if the zamboni machine was has a gas powered engine and maybe if he had already been regularly exposed to benzene from indoor exhaust in addition to now living near a natural gas drill site.
In speaking with Pam, a mother of a SeguinHigh Schoolstudent that also lives near the drill site by theArlingtonairport, she told me that last winter she was at the school and became alarmed at the smell and grabbed a security guard to tell him that she thought something was wrong with the drill site. The security guard commented “mam we have this drill site here now and this is what we (normally) smell”.
My son has already had four medical incidents that I can’t help but feel was drilling exposure related. We are about a mile downwind (to the north) of the Carrizo, UT Arlington 22 gas wells. My son, Graham, was lethargic for ten days just after playing outside on a Friday snow “white out” event in Feb 2010. I think a cooling inversion pushed the pollution down to the ground in a concentrated amount. By that Sunday, he was really tired. Monday and Tues he was fine I thought, but I did think he had an inner ear issue from wax build up.
Wednesday, he went to school feeling bad and needed to be picked up 1/2 a day with flu like symptoms, tired headache, nauseated, but no fever. He stayed home Thurs & Friday complaining of being dizzy, his head feeling scrambled, tired like he has been running, although feeling anxious/hyper like he needs to run to work it off.
Friday morning I noticed his eyes were dilated real big and stayed like that for a while, we both moved from room to room-mine were always smaller than his. So I flashed a light into his eyes and then it responded and got small. He said he was having some rapid breathing, and that this all came in waves. So I took him to his pediatrician who ordered blood work and prescribed over the counter medicine to relieve sinus pressure. Saturday he felt bad, but went with us shopping, Sunday he said he was fine and went to church (stayed inside-no exertion) and later to music practice. Monday, I sent him to school which is also downwind a couple of blocks from a Carrizo drill site inPantegoTX. He tried out for the track team, ran twice, didn’t really exert himself a whole lot, but three hours later the wave of symptoms came back again, even worse than before. I had to pick him up early from school and he told me he could not bound the stairs like he usually does.
I took him back to the doctor. The blood work we did earlier on his first visit was back and there were no abnormalities in his CBC but the tests were repeated and still the blood work, sinus and chest x-rays did not reveal anything. He took antibiotics and was limited in what he could do. I noticed him trying to be normal and play the guitar, but it wiped him out. He was so lethargic, he did not get up at all except to eat and pee. Then he said the rapid breathing put a pressure on his chest making him feel like it’s hard to breathe in what I now call “BP Symptom” episodes of headache, nausea, scrambled head, and being tired. But DIZZINESS was his biggest complaint that he said came about every two hours or when he moved around in just sitting up or lying down. This wave lasts about an hour; so technically, half of his life for a seven day period had been in dizziness and caused him to miss five straight days of school.
A couple of weeks after his mysterious illness subsided; I let him go bike riding at his friend’s house that lives near the Pantego drill site. I remember dropping him off and freaking out cause I saw how close his friend lived to the drill site. Within an hour and a half, my (then 13 year old) son called me “crying” to pick him up with a severe pressure in his eardrum. We caught it in time before it burst. He has not cried in years so I knew he was in real pain.
A year later, January 2011, they started fracking five consecutive gas wells near his school in Pantego. See youtube “Fracking at Bailey Junior High” of the compressors in action. I also reported later to TCEQ a white plume that resulted in no violations with the exception of a note of a slight diesel smell. By mid February after a couple more doctor visits, my son was told he was asthmatic now.
Our third round of blood tests included heavy metals, allergies and BTEX testing, however only the allergies for animal dander and dust mites came back positive. In the lab I met a 19 year old who has fluid around her heart and also working by a drill site. Thankfully for my son there was no high BTEX readings found in his blood and urine, but I wasn’t surprised because the school schedule changed and the students did not go outside that week leading up to his BTEX test, plus the driller stopped fracking a couple of times just prior to his blood testing. His BTEX results will serve to be a baseline for when they start drilling in our neighborhood this summer. If those dizzy spells come back, then I am prepared to do more BTEX testing.
I’ll never forget how he claimed to have felt “out of his head” and had trouble concentrating in school. He’s told me that one or twice before since he’s been at Bailey, but I didn’t make the connection until later. His junior high experience was truly fracked.
Regarding the compressor station #1 in Arlington at East Harris/Eden near Cooper, I met a lady whose granddaughter has been in the hospital in Nov 2010 for respiratory issues. She had her blood tested in December, but has since changed her phone number and may not live near the Arlington Compressor Station anymore. I drove around her neighborhood and asked five different families about any unusual nosebleeds and one said that the nose bleeding has increased in one family member.
Reginawas living downwind from Arlington Compressor Station #1 onSpitfire Drive. She told me she’s been sick with respiratory issues ever since it came in. Three times in November she went to the emergency room. She also took her 7 year old granddaughter in the middle of the night to the emergency room and claimed the child was literally drowning in her mucus. She told me sometimes she smelled fumes in the girl’s bedroom. There also is a drill site to the north of her that was fracking last December.
I never asked her about nose bleeds….she offered this info to me. She said her granddaughter used to have maybe 3 nose bleeds a year, but increased to 3 times a month. Last I spoke to her she was having three nosebleeds A DAY! She didn’t want to be identified when interviewed by the Ft Worth Weekly for fear of not being able to sell her home. Look at this link to see the area where she lives, then scroll down to the south and enlarge image to the compressor station #1 (what is in that pond?)
I interviewed a lady who works in an export business on Edenroad that backs up to the field where Arlington Compressor Station #1 is. She told me her and some others have complained that their asthma and allergies have worsened ever since the compressor station came in.
My son’s school teacher moved toDenham Drivewhich is northwest of Cooper downwind from the Arlington Compressor Station #1. She said after they moved in, that they have been having allergy attacks. Even the cat’s eyes are dripping. In the end of May, I saw her with a cane and not very mobile. She said she has arthritis and the wreck she had last January made things worse. But when I worked with her weeks earlier, she wasn’t using a cane. Seeing her struggling to get around reminded me of the young woman fromDISHTXthat lost her mobility, moved to Ft Worth – got better- only to relapse when drilling moved into Ft Worth. Hmmm?
Here is some health info on my neighborhood near the Cowboy Stadium, GM (and their gas wells), UTA (and their 22 gas wells), along with high traffic, and lots of paint & body shops. My representative, prodriller Councilman LeBlanc, has told me that he figured that GM emits about 370 tons a year (toxic risk dot com said 190 tons per year for 2007). With our predominant southerly winds, we have been downwind from GM and the UT Arlington wells. GM is planning to expand this plant and our city council has approved even more gas wells at the GM plant.
Prior to drilling, being pregnant and working across the street from GM (north-downwind) was no picnic. In my first trimester, I had liver failure. In my last trimester I had Bells Palsy on the right side of my face. My first born was jaundice at birth and has lived with a persistent asthmatic cough that is his trademark sound.
Starting last summer, I collected over 500 signatures to fight the proposed natural gas drilling site in my neighborhood. I was alarmed to find a cluster of health effects that already existed. Living onTruman St, was a three year old under nursing care who was born with Prader Willis Syndrome and needs to be fed through a tube-he also has asthma. Across the street at least a child named Angel is asthmatic. At the corner of Truman andNorth Street, Jonathan came to our neighborhood already having asthma. I was proud of him for speaking in defense of his health at the city council meeting. Our efforts could not fight off the money Chesapeake started throwing around to ensure drilling happened at that “tightly spaced” location. Now these low income renters with children, teenagers and young adults will be living within 600 feet of a drill site. It is also important to note that this Truman drill site will be within 2,500 feet of the Cowboy Stadium (a great terrorist target I might add).
Near Truman to the west at the 400 block ofEast St, and one more block to the west at the 400 block of Elm, which is where I live, we each have a teenager that has a speech impediment. My son’s chin was quivering when I first held him. I knew then that something might not be perfect with his health. I suspect this may be from living downwind from GM and all this localized city pollution prior to gas drilling.
One of my tenants that lived across the street from us miscarried about 7 years ago (pre-drilling, so maybe GM?). The replacement tenant that lived there next had breast cancer two years ago (UT Arlington near us leased their state land for drilling in 2006). I worry now about the new family living there with three small boys. The man living next to them has MS. My neighbor two doors down has had a history of stomach illnesses (before drilling), and now recently has vertigo (after drilling). A young man living next to them died in his sleep last year. A lady at the corner of my street is a cancer survivor and should not be subjected to area emissions. Also “Crazy Mary” lives near the corner of East and North behind me and has fibromyalgia, is suspected to be mental ill, and will surely be at risk once the drilling starts about 1,200 feet behind her. I’ve been told that the family within 400 feet of our new drill site has been living there for almost 20 years and the mother also has mental illness. I can only guess how the industrial lights, noise, traffic and odors will affect her.
My previous exposures to chemicals may have played a role in the canary effect. Looking back, 25 years ago I had similar urological, heart, & sinus issues when I used to live and work near the petroleum plants inNorco,Louisiana. I now realize that living and working so close has made me more sensitive to chemicals and it is only getting worse. I remember girlfriend & I franticly itching our noses together. Her eyes were always red and runny. My other girlfriend and a co-worker lived with horrible migraines, and one of my friends died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage. My x mother-in-law died from stomach cancer; she worked across the street from Shell Oil. I ended up having surgery on my sinuses and was under the care of urologist and cardiologist while living and working on the fence line of Shell Oil over twenty years ago.
When I moved toArlington, I immediately lost my voice (the humidity change was crazy-but I also worked across the street from GM). My sinus problems improved after moving from Norco, but since drilling started in Arlington, I have occasional overly dry sinuses. Sometimes I wake in the night gasping for air and running for water and it is horrifying. I’m thinking the culprit is those glycol dehydrators. If so, they have the effect of a “decongestant on crank”.
I wonder about our exposure from GM and often smell a sickly sweet odor in the air that I’ve called 911 twice on before. Several years ago, I drove by GM and smelled a rotten egg odor and realized THEY were drilling too! I called 911 complaining that I thought that I moved away from the refineries. I told them that I didn’t want to live and breathe industrial chemicals anymore.
In 2006, UT Arlington started drilling about a mile downwind of where we live. Currently they have 22 wells on their college campus and may be planning to stack 100 more. Looking back, I recall going through a phase of feeling jittery, nervous, anxious and clenching my jar (I notice my husband does that jar clenching too). Then it went away…either my body got used to the toxins in our air, or it was under control, or the toxins were blowing in a different direction.
Since drilling, I have feelings of panic, depression and impending doom. Once last year, both my son and I had shoulder muscle twitching at the same time. Now my husband says his right shoulder is sore (Julie’s husband is at the doctor for his shoulder as I type this). We recently had to buy a new mattress, but we still have pain. When I got on the hormones for (early?) menopause in Q1 of 2010, I had a pain in my right glut that went away I thought when my body got used to the hormone. When I took myself off of those hormones about 9 months later (November 2010), my hip started hurting again. I took myself off of the hormones caused I felt I had too many chemicals in and around me. My right hip continues to feel like I have a pulled muscle deep in my glut-like a bruise that won’t go away. (Update after seeing Dr Lewis Cone a nutritionist, the achy joints went away after I was detoxed of environmental toxins…now they will put a drill site across from where he has an office at 360/Ave H near Six Flags-they plan 37 wells.)
In June and early July, we had some straight days of a sickly sweet smell just at dark, again after 8pm, and then as late as 10 pm. I think GM uses their smokestacks at night, or that sweet smell is glycol floating from the huge UT Arlington drill site. My vision is steadily getting worse, but I’ll be 49 this year, so that may be normal. (update as of 11/20/12… my vision stopped being intermittantly blurry at the same time that the UTA and the GM sites ceased its invasive preproduction activities and are now in production. Ove rthe last three months-Sept, Oct, Nov 2012, my female cycles returned…they were slowly getting back to normal and my detox doctor was so pleased and called that a sign that the detox worked).
I did want to mention that over the last two years when I drove through the refineries in Baton Rouge, I have had two separate episodes of extreme teeth sensitivity that went away after I drove through the area.
I keep mentioning GM and my Louisiana refinery exposure while I address urban drilling for natural gas because I firmly believe those people who are already sensitive or predisposed to sensitivity seem to react (the canary effect) more when living in industrialized areas. Only time will tell how far reaching and at what risk we will undertake living and working in the gas patch. Royalty checks won’t be able to buy good health. My biggest complaint as I write this is that my joints in my elbow and fingers hurt almost constantly now. (update 11/20/12 after seeing Dr Lew Cone in the fall of 2011 through mid year of 2012 to detox me over a six month period, the aches are gone and the strength in my grasp is back). I just woke up from a nap that I could have sworn I was drugged and I never take naps. Last night around 11:30 pm, I could smell that sickly, sweet odor on my door step again. I fear it is aromatic hydrocarbons or glycol ethers?
I also have info on animal health issues. My parrot that I’ve had for at least 12 years now is sneezing more than I’ve ever seen. “Julie’s” 150 pound dog (who slept under the open window that night they were gassed) was having trouble walking and was very wobbly on his feet afterwards. Three out of four of the family’s laying hens abruptly quit laying eggs immediately after the gas leak, and one of those three later died in June. I have photos of two dead Mexican Hawks just after the storm in a large field nearby.
In DalworthingtonGardens, another chicken died in June that was downwind from the DFW Midstream Compressor Station and the XTO Elkins drill site. The owner of the chicken, Betty, lives north of both sites. On May 12, 2011when she was investigating a loud sound that she thought was the compressor station acting up, she let her cat ride with her in the car. In getting close to the facility, she had to turn around because the cat started vomiting and never did that in her car before. Turns out the XTO drill site south of the compressor station was having its fourth emission event this year. Betty complains to me of her respiratory issues. She has mentioned to me twice about having a metallic taste in her mouth. She is now sensitive to the odor from her gas stove. Interestingly, she retired from GM and I heard that she spoke of a “blue haze” inside the plant. The retired GM employee’s daughter emailed me and told me that when she comes to visit her mother, that in a couple of days that “she” begins to feel ill and doesn’t stay long. I also got an email from her saying the paint was peeling off of her old truck. I haven’t seen peeling paint off of vehicles since my Shell oil days where it was common for the paint to peel off of those “new” vehicles parked at the refineries.
Another elderly lady living in Pantego that is also downwind was hospitalized in December for pneumonia. One of our area’s fire chief reportedly has a wife in a late stage of leukemia. An 80 year old woman that also lived near Duff Elementary recently moved out of state after being diagnosed with leukemia and I heard a teacher at Duff had breast cancer. My dental assistant’s husband in Grand Prairie died of pancreatic cancer (turns out there are 6 people in her neighborhood with Pancreatic cancer at Calendar and Park Springs) as did a lady who’s husband worked out in West Texas where there is always a drilling odor present. I met another lady whose dad was in the oil and gas business that also died of pancreatic cancer. A young pastor from an area Methodist Church suddenly died from a brain hemorrhage related to (fast acting) leukemia a few months ago. An athletics coach at a private school in Arlington died months ago from…leukemia. A lady in my bible study living in the Lake Arlington area (where we have had high formaldehyde and carbon disulfide readings at the nearby Compressor Station near the Excelon Power Plant) died from a fast acting cancer last November-they had a water well, but only used it for watering the grass.
Disenchanted with the thought of praying for those with cancer and not involving themselves with the POLITICS of fighting the polluters causing it, I dropped out of my bible study group. I believe in doing more than just praying for those afflicted by our cancer epidemic. Now another lady in my former bible study class is battling breast cancer. I realize people have been dying from cancers and leukemia all along, but never in all my almost 50 years of life have I seen this much at once, and it just happens to be AFTER WE ALLOWED URBAN DRILLING! I did not use any search engines to find out about these recent events. On Facebook, an acquaintance told me they were at the bar at Bowen and Division and nosebleeds being more common in Arlington was the consensus. I did see on a Facebook page about a 6 year old girls fight with neuroblastoma called “Kick it Kodi”….yes she lives in Sanger TX which is north of Denton, a heavily drilled area of the Barnett Shale. Dr Theo Colburn says these toxic plumes can travel 200 miles.
Those that read this please help us spread the stories about the risks we take living downwind in the gas patch and be vocal to our city council to stop the madness. It took many years and others before me stomping and screaming about the YWCA Child Development Center at UT Arlington to get this daycare moved from being 300 feet downwind from this huge on campus gas production site! Those toddlers are the closest to those wells. At the daycare center, I met an African American, pregnant, & possibly low income caregiver who was relieved to know that the state tester from Austin did some radiation readings and said that all was normal. She said that they could not let the children outside on “busy” days because the odors were too strong. Personally, just standing near there, especially on the fence line makes me feel sick.
Last I heard the daycare will finally be moved after FIVE years. Rumor has it that it is only because they want to add 100 more “stacked” wells. I was outraged to learn that our city gas well inspections will NOT include the UT Arlington site because it is on state property. “If it isn’t mandated, why care?” That seems to be the industry, local, state and federal government’s motto. And if industry can write their own “rules of the game”, then the politicians are kept fat and happy while the rest of us have to spend our lives working to protect our families from these atrocities. At some point soon we will have to take to the streets to fight these “game changers” that bring toxic industrialized sites into our neighborhoods. We need to all become involved in this war to make them stop taking short cuts and making profits while we get cancer.
Sincerely, law abiding, tax paying, “environmental volunteer to earn my rent on this planet”- Kim