Oil and gas companies in West Texas released hundreds of tons of toxic gases into the air last week as a record-breaking heatwave drove pressure inside pipelines and compressors to dangerously high levels.
One company, Houston-based Targa Resources, alone released more than half a million pounds of gas into the air during at least 17 reported events over a seven-day period, according to records filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
In one instance, the $17 billion company vented 238,000 pounds of gas when facilities in its pipeline network dialed back operations “to prevent them from shutting down due to high ambient temperature.” In another, it released 168,000 pounds “to prevent compressor units from overheating due to high ambient temperature.”
“These are just huge, major release events,” said Wilma Subra, an environmental chemist and MacArthur fellow in Louisiana, who reviewed the data for Inside Climate News. “That gas contains a whole host of chemicals that cause cancer and chronic diseases.”