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Air monitoring station expected to be online soon

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The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is installing a permanent air quality monitoring station in Flower Mound that should be up and running by December, according to town officials.

To be located near the intersection of FM 1171 and Shiloh Road in the vicinity of several gas drilling sites, the Automated Gas Chromatograph (AutoGC) will continually monitor ambient levels of numerous volatile organic compounds, including benzene, toluene, and ethylbenzene.

According to TCEQ officials, the AutoGC will provide near real-time data for immediate review and will generate an archive to offer a historical baseline of the air quality in Flower Mound.

Monitoring results will be available to the public on the TCEQ website, and will be made available to the Town of Flower Mound’s Environmental Resources staff members, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other interested parties.

Representative Tan Parker contacted TCEQ last spring on behalf of the town to request a monitoring station, and in a letter to the TCEQ, Senator Jane Nelson cited Flower Mound as an ideal site for a station due to the town being centrally located within the Barnett Shale and noted that it was vital for the state to collect air quality data to support public health research.

Residents and many town officials welcome the air monitor as concerns mount about the short and long term effects of gas drilling.

TCEQ officials recently visited the Sam Wilson gas well site on Scenic Drive after receiving calls from nearby residents complaining of odors, but the agency has not released the final data related to the inspection.

However, three recent ambient air evaluations conducted by the town near the Wilson site showed no unsafe concentrations of volatile organic compounds.

Official investigation and lab reports are posted on the TCEQ webpage at www.tceq.state.tx.us/implementation/barnettshale/bshale-viewer.

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