Hydrogen sulfide, a rotten egg-smelling gas found near oilfields and pipelines, is growing in presence across Texas. As drilling and fracking is a daily occurrence at the Barnett and Eagle Ford Shales, hydrogen sulfide is becoming a reality for many who live nearby.
More Drilling, More Hydrogen Sulfide
This gas is released from natural gas and crude oil after it comes out of the ground, so it can be released at any point during its transportation. Depending on the concentration in the air, hydrogen sulfide can kill in as little as 30 minutes to an hour. It can quickly numb one's sense of smell, making someone think that the scent is gone. In a short period of time exposure to the gas can lead to unconsciousness, followed by death.
Although large amounts of this gas have obviously proven to cause death, researchers are more concerned about small amounts. People exposed to these smaller amounts have experienced chronic dizziness and shortness of breath.
There is an increased need to handle the issue of hydrogen sulfide because of the large number of pipeline permits. Pipeline permits are being requested by oil and gas well operators who need to move gas contaminated with hydrogen sulfide from well sites to processing plants. Those facilities remove the hydrogen sulfide, making the gas "sweet" and therefore acceptable to be sent to pipelines that feed the natural gas market.
Effect of Toxic Gas on Texas Urban Areas
42 hydrogen sulfide pipelines have been approved in Texas in the past five years, with the latest of which being an 11-mile hydrogen sulfide gas pipeline that will run past 25 homes and 15 public roads near a town just west of Lubbock. All of these homes are directly in the "radius of exposure," or in the area that will be directly exposed to this deadly gas in the event of a leak. This particular pipeline meets state requirements, but there is always the threat for a leak.
These homes near hydrogen sulfide pipelines are not the only ones that are in danger, though. There is also concern for the actual homes and families living near drilling areas. Drilling in rural areas is fairly well-regulated, but the latest drilling in urban and even suburban areas of the states have not yet adjusted to the rules.
The boom of urban drilling in the past few years has created an issue with oversight where no one is truly regulating the drilling techniques. In order to keep surrounding neighborhoods and cities safe, there is a need to increase the number of air monitors. These will ensure that the air concentration is always at a safe, breathable level for the innocent residents nearby.
What Can Be Done
Being a resident of North Texas, I fully understand the scope of oil and gas drilling that has overtaken certain parts of the region. I also understand that families may be at risk in the one place that is supposed to be safe- their homes. Personal injury lawyers like myself often see families who have experienced a completely preventable injury or death, and this is one of those situations where companies can prevent death or injury from occurring.
Although the effects of toxic gas are not always as visible as other types of injuries, the results could be easily as fatal. One of the biggest differences of treating with car accidents and other physical accidents is that the injury is quickly to appear on the skin, or the injured victim could be feeling some sort of symptom that makes them go to the doctor. With toxic gas and hydrogen sulfide gas, it can be slightly different.
The effects of the gas can not only take time to appear, it can appear in a moment when emergency care is absolutely necessary. Don’t let this happen to you! If you suspect a gas leak of any sort, whether it is gas, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, or any other type of toxic gas, make sure to contact the police so that the appropriate emergency response team can be contacted! Ignoring a strange smell does not do any good either. If there is a smell that appears to be a chemical, or if there is any suggestion that the area that you are in may be located near the site of a chemical company, the correct (and SAFE) thing to do is to contact the authorities. Also, if you are diagnosed with a chemical-related injury, it is important for you to get the help you need and deserve. Do not worry about figuring out how to pay for the medical bills, that is where a personal injury attorney comes in! Remember, it is always a better option to take the safe route over the indifferent route - it can even be life saving!
As a Texas resident, I think we need to hold oil and gas companies accountable and make sure they have enough air monitors in their drilling areas to be safe. As a personal injury lawyer, I know that accidents will continue to arise from hydrogen sulfide leaks no matter what. Oil and gas companies will always try to cut corners and will be negligent in one way or another, which is why I'm here to help.
Contact us at the Anderson Law Firm at 817-292-1900 if you or a loved one has recently been injured or killed by a hydrogen sulfide gas leak. There is compensation that can be gained from the company in charge of hydrogen sulfide pipelines or oilfields.