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Media Contact:
  • Hilary Lewis, 202-887-1872 x101, hlewis@earthworks.org

Stillwater, OK — A complaint filed by environmental groups Earthworks and Stop Fracking Payne County resulted in new equipment to reduce pollution at the White Star Petroleum “Duncan” well pad just south of Stillwater, Oklahoma.

The final inspection report, received by the groups today, showed that Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) inspectors responded to the complaint and found air pollution at the site. OK DEQ then contacted White Star, which purchased and installed new hatches for their leaking tanks. DEQ followed up and confirmed White Star properly installed the new hatches.

“This action shows why we must speak up when we see, smell, or hear something possibly problematic at an oil and gas facility in our community,” said Kel Pickens, co-founder of Stop Fracking Payne County. “Oklahoma is no stranger to oil and gas pollution. One way we can protect our health and climate from pollution is by reporting possible problems to the regulators whose job it is to solve them.”

In August, Earthworks and Stop Fracking Payne County visited the Duncan pad with Earthworks’ optical gas imaging (OGI) camera. Earthworks’ trained and certified thermographer took video evidence of otherwise invisible air pollution at the site, and used that video to file a formal complaint with DEQ. This was the team’s third visit to the Duncan pad. During each visit, Earthworks’ thermographer documented plumes of air pollution resulting from operations at the site.

“It’s a game-changer to expose this otherwise invisible air pollution and allow communities, residents, and neighbors to see the pollution for the first time,” said Sharon Wilson, Earthworks’ Senior Organizer and certified thermographer. “Oftentimes people have smelled or suspected pollution for years, but never had the proof. Earthworks’ camera provides evidence, and as we see today filing a complaint turns that evidence into real action that helps the whole community.”

Earthworks uses the same FLIR GF320 camera that OK DEQ, regulators and oil and gas operators nationwide use to find and document pollution at wells and facilities. Earthworks’ thermographers have also taken industry-standard training to interpret the images produced by the camera. The camera detects 20 climate and health-harming pollutants associated with oil and gas including methane, a climate pollutant 86 times worse than carbon dioxide, and other volatile organic compounds like benzene, a known carcinogen.

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