Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Rural residents concerned that 'wet gas' poses health, safety concerns

Some rural residents that use natural gas to heat their homes are now being supplied with gas that is not a fully processed, clean-burning fuel, reports Jim Malewitz for The Texas Tribune and Max Baker for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. And with the natural gas business booming, more rural residents could be provided with this form of fuel. (Star-Telegram photo by Joyce Marshall: Jon Salis, of Palo Pinto, Texas, receives untreated natural gas at his home)

"Known as 'wet gas' because it contains higher concentrations of liquids such as ethane and butane, the unprocessed gas is prone to freezing in cold weather and, in rare cases, can corrode appliances, causing them to misfire and potentially emit carbon monoxide, according to documents filed with the Texas Railroad Commission," Malewitz and Baker write.

For residents in Palo Pinto, Texas, about 80 miles west of Arlington, natural gas is "tapped from a pipeline that runs beneath the lake on its way to a processing plant," Malewitz and Baker write. It's called a "farm tap," in which "many utilities and landowners considered it easiest and cheapest to hook up rural homes to nearby pipelines that carry mostly raw fuel from gas fields to processing plants."

"Most residential gas is stripped of troublesome liquids in processing," Malewitz and Baker write. "But thousands of landowners over the decades negotiated to tap into raw gas when they allowed pipeline companies to build across their property." (Read more)

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