For the third year in a row, San Antonio is likely to be in violation of permissible ozone levels as set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to some predictions. If so, it’s also like that the 20,000 square mile Eagle Ford Shale play just south of San Antonio is at least partly responsible for this continuing air quality problem.
Hot, sunny days like those typical of South Texas exacerbate health problems related to high amounts of ground-level ozone. Children, older adults and those with existing lung problems may find it more difficult to breathe because of high ozone levels and children are more likely to develop asthma, according to the EPA.
Oil and gas extraction and production sites in the Eagle Ford Shale play are not the only contributors to the heightened levels of ozone in the San Antonio area, but the flames that dot the South Texas landscape are a visible reminder of the air pollution. Motor vehicle exhaust, industrial byproducts and electric utilities are also sources of the chemical reactions that create ground-level ozone.
However, oil and gas sites that operate outside of their permitted actions are problematic for controlling ozone pollution. An inspection of the Patton Trust South Production facility near Karnes City by the Texas Commission on Environtmental Quality (TCEQ) revealed that the site was burning two flares to dispose of production wastes, despite holding a permit for only one. The facility also had 24 tanks installed, but permits only for 18.
Source: EE News, “EAGLE FORD SHALE:Rising ozone levels point to tangled web of Texas permitting,” January 15, 2014