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EPA's Region 6 Office

Serving: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 Tribal Nations

Real-Time Enforcement


Increased oil and gas exploration production in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Barnett Shale area has led to an increase in public concerns about the possible air pollution impact on public health of nearby communities.

Recent inspections of oil and gas facilities in the area by the EPA’s enforcement officers using a new innovative tool, the Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR™) camera, have identified numerous emissions of hazardous air pollutants. The camera’s infra-red technology allows enforcement officers to ‘see’ emissions that are otherwise not visible to the human-eye.

As a result of EPA’s inspections, citations were issued by enforcement officers requiring facilities to immediately fix, repair or replace equipment and certify compliance with the Clean Air Act (CAA). Air pollutants often escape from poorly maintained or open storage tanks.

EPA enforcement officers first implemented the on-the-spot enforcement citations in July of 2009 to immediately require companies to address environmental problems impacting the public’s health and the environment. The citations utilize the Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause and Risk Management Program requirements to address unpermitted oil and gas air releases.

Additional information on these requirements

The on-the-spot enforcement citation saves money and resources as well as rapidly fixes problems which result in air pollution. The images and video (below) show site conditions from before and after EPA’s enforcement activities.

Stephens and Johnson Operating Company, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma.

On May 2, 3, 26, June 27 and July 7, 2011, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality field inspectors documented leaks from tanks at the Stevens and Johnson Operating Co. well in Oklahoma City, OK. The video here was recorded on May 3 and shows the release of methane from the hatch of one of the tanks at the site. The new camera model used here is capable of recording both visible light video (at the beginning of the clip) and IR video (the gray shades portion of the video).

Chesapeake Operating, Inc., Bethany, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma

In June of 2011, EPA Contractors conducted an aerial survey using a FLIR GasFindIR Camera. The survey included the DCP Midstream Reno Compressor Station, where a leaking vent was observed (visible in the video as a dark plume from the vent stack). The very bright area in the video is the gas compressor which was generating a relatively large amount of heat so that it appears bright white and diffuse.

U.S.EPA Region 6
Compliance Assurance and Enforcement Division
Air Toxics Enforcement Section (6EN-AT)
1445 Ross Avenue
Dallas, TX 75202-2733

Esteban Herrera, Section Chief
Main Office Phone: (214) 665-7220
Fax: (214) 665-7446

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