Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Flare on Witt Farm


According to the environmental health specialist James Argo, one regular component of flare fumes, benzene "will be present in enough concentration to pose a measurable risk to inhabitants out to 5 km from the flare". I indicate this radius in the below picture:

The flare on Witt Farm and the 5km radius around the flare in which to expect health impacts due to benzene alone. At least 15,000 people live within this circle.

Here are a few other excerpts from a report James Argo wrote for the Canadian environmental group Save Our Seas and Shores (Argo 2001):
  • "A flare is a device for disposing of waste gas and oil [and co-produced sea-water] very cheaply by burning the organic material in an open, uncontrolled, manner at an elevation above the ground varying from 15 to 75 or more m.. The elevation is to disperse the combustion products and throw them away from the work site."
  • "Flares are an unreported source of greenhouse gases. Flaring emissions do not appear in National Pollutant Release Inventory from Environment Canada nor Toxic Release Inventory in the US."
  • "Flares are an unreported source of dioxins."
  • "A poorly operating flare is a travesty against the entire biosphere within up to a 30km radius. It is axiomatic that where a flare is smoking no one should be downwind."
  • "The result is that an elevated risk for cancer may be present in the first 2.5 to 5 km from the flare. Residents in this zone have the potential to be affected by benzene exposure as described below. This concentration of benzene is below the odor threshold."
  • "Increased morbidity and elevated risk of leukemia is everywhere possible for residents within 5 km under these conditions. Those most at risk of long-term health effects are persons under age 30."


Amodio M, de Gennaro G, Marzocca A, Trizio L, Tutino M. Assessment of Impacts Produced by Anthropogenic Sources in a Little City near an Important Industrial Area (Modugno, Southern Italy). The Scientific World Journal [Internet].2013:10. Available from:


  1. Unfortunately, the Argo report, from which you extract the quotes for your bullet points, does not quantify the amounts of hazardous chemicals (for example benzene) that are in the source gas stream prior to burning. Such hazardous chemicals must already be in the pre-burned gas stream in order for some percentage of them to still be present post-burn.

    Do you have any proof (such as a gas analysis) to substantiate your assertion that anyone within a 5 km radius of the Witt Farm flare should expect health impacts due to benzene?

    If not, your attempt to apply the Argo report's findings is baseless.

    1. It would be the 1st flare on this planet if the Witt Farm flare would not contain benzene. Given what we know about flares, the height and size of the flare, and the wind conditions in Adrian, the 5km circle is a good (and conservative) estimate of the danger zone. But I agree with you, it is a shame that we do not have several monitoring stations around the Witt Farm to actually measure what is there. I intend to achieve just that: To establish an independent monitoring of the air around Witt Farm. I would be happy if that would proof my statements wrong - and show that people within the 5km circle are safe...
      In addition, it was my understanding that the DEQ permits flaring for a maximum of 6 months - until it is reasonable to expect that the profiteering oil company returns some of the profit to capture and market the gas...

  2. Tom ... I am VERY interested in starting air monitoring NOW and would be happy to help spearhead this initiative and get it into reality. You have my contact information; contact me at your convenience.