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Clarifications on natural gas activities

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We are writing about two items from March 17 (“Filidoro and Hayden Say ‘Enough is Enough,’ and “Frac fluid spill reported in Flower Mound,”) to address a couple of issues that could benefit from clarification.

First, we agree that health and safety are of the utmost importance. Williams is committed to running its operations in a responsible, reliable manner that protects the public as well as our employees and contractors who visit our sites daily.

That’s why our Barnett Shale staff – a group that has more than 400 years of combined professional experience – includes local environmental, health and safety employees with backgrounds in air quality and bio-environmental technology.

Second, it is important for residents to know that any variance we sought never modified residential setbacks for houses beyond our leased properties, which stand at 1,000 feet. This is the equivalent of more than three football fields.

Third, the reference to elevated levels of methane and carbon disulfide may be a bit confusing to readers because it is presented out of context. The existence of carbon disulfide, while apparently posing no health concerns at the levels detected, has nothing to do with Williams’ operations. And, the levels of methane found still remain well below both state and federal regulations. For more information regarding these reports, see www.flower-mound.com/env_resources/env_resources_airquality.php.

Additionally, the air quality at and around our Flower Mound site on 1171/Scenic Road has been tested by experts on three separate occasions since the beginning of the year.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality did two of the tests. Williams pro-actively initiated the third, performed by W&M Environmental Group, a Plano-based independent contractor, who used EPA protocols in their analysis. All three tests showed that the air was clean and well within the parameters of state requirements. We voluntarily provided the W&M report to the Town.

With regard to the suggestion for a moratorium and its proposed conditions, Williams is already meeting many of those provisions and will continue to strive to maintain our strong record of health and safety. 

Regrettably, there was an unexpected leak of flowback water on a Williams lease last week. This was due to a seal problem on a tank provided by one of our contractors. We are working to examine the event in order to prevent similar incidents from happening. 

The clean-up for the incident effectively protected public land and water. Ultimately, we contained and captured approximately 80 percent (65 of 80 barrels) of the water through a vacuum recovery process. The remainder was removed from the site in soil, which we replaced with fresh dirt. These efforts exceeded our initial response and remediation plan.

In closing, we plan to be a part of the Flower Mound Community for years to come. We understand and embrace our responsibility and we’re open to doing more outreach in town and finding common ground wherever we can.

Kelly Swan is a communications official for Williams. He has been with the company for 15 years, working with communities and news organizations.

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