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:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pope Francis: "Thou shalt not frack!"

Pope Francis holding up anti-fracking t-shirts following a meeting with a group of Argentinian environmental activists to discuss water and fracking issues. The shirts read “No To Fracking” and “Water Is More Precious Than Gold.” Meet the Newest Anti-Fracking Activist: Pope Francis. I haven't seen this covered prominently here, but thought it's worth a mention when the guy with a direct line to 1.2 billion people's ears says that it's not cool to frack. This week the Twitterverse went ablaze when Pope Francis met with Argentine filmmaker Fernando “Pino” Solanas (La Guerra del Fracking -- The Fracking War) and environmental activist Juan Pablo Olsson at the Vatican to discuss fracking and water pollution. Olsson posted the photo of himself, Solanas and Pope Francis. Next Up For Pope Francis: Anti-Fracking Activist? Finally, a logical pope. If your belief tells you that God gave us th...- read the full story at:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Demonstration at Enbridge's Office in Marshall

I received the following announcement by MI-CATS ( and thought you would be interested and/or help to get the word out:

We are excited to invite you to a demonstration at Enbridge's office in
Marshall on Monday, November 25th at 11:30 am. Luckily there is no jury
selection that day! Instead we will visit Enbridge officials who hold down
a fort near the worst inland oil spill in the history of histories. We
will demand they properly clean up the spill before continuing with their
project. We will also urge them to abandon all tar sands infrastructure
projects. We invite people to bring signs, noisemakers, glitter and
energy! If you are able to join, reply to and we will give you
more specifics- meet up points and the timeline for the day.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Witt Farm Update

As expected, the flare on Witt Farm is very large. You cannot see the flame (as it is hidden in an empty, top open tank - I wonder why?) but as 6 or more wells are now processed on Witt Farm, it is burning very hot, which you can see on the picture below. The smell is awful, even while taking the picture from M52, which is west of the flare - and the wind coming from the south - so it should not smell at all to the west!! Just as a reminder of my previous post: what you can smell might not be the worst of the gas and volatile cocktail that is spewed out by this mega-flare. However, it is a good indication of how much is spewed, which is certainly not healthy for the neighbors within at least a 2 mile radius. Denial will not help them as these are chemicals that are not following the "what does not kill you makes you stronger" fallacy.  In addition, property values in the wider surroundings will go down because of having a dirty industry so close by - regardless of neighboring property owners following the "ostrich principle" (sticking your head in the sand takes care of danger) as in the notion of "what you do not talk about does not exist"...

Burning of the gases and vapors of 6 or more wells in the hidden flare on Witt Farm produces a lot of heat showing the partial combustion of partially poisonous and cancerous chemicals.

There are now 7 or more oil barrels to store crude - meaning that either 7 wells are currently processed, soon to be processed - or that there is so much oil going in through the now 3 pipelines that the previous 6 tanks were not sufficient anymore.

 The six original grey tanks were lately supplemented by 1 or two new beige colored tanks, which would translate to probably 8 wells coming in

On the separator side, there are 6 separators visible when coming down M52 southbound. This would rather suggest 6 wells...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ann Arbor OKs Fossil Fuel Divestment

A powerful new methods how municipalities can bring down the almighty oil and gas lobby. Hopefully Adrian is thinking of doing the same...

More information and background about divestment:

Does Divestment Work?

Fossil Free Campaign

An update on fossil fuel divestment

Institutions committing to divest from fossil fuels:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

It does not exist if you cannot see it????

Despite not burning in the open but being hidden in a empty oil tank - the Witt Farm flare is real and much larger than it was in the beginning when only one well was hooked up. Flares are known to contain poisonous and cancerous VOCs in addition to natural gas. In contrary to the Michigan DEQ's promises to force oil companies to capture and market the natural gas, Savoy Energy is still burning it off - more than 8 months after starting doing so on Witt Farm. This is not only wasteful but irresponsible. As the local and state authorities are obviously not doing their job, I am currently in the process to organize a citizen-run air monitoring near the site.

Hidden Flare 2/24/2013 fed by a single well on Witt Farm

Youtube Video of that Flare

Flare on 5/26/2013 fed by 3 wells 

Flare on 8/1/2013 fed by 4-5 wells

And as of today probably by as many as 6-8 wells. Due to the increased perimeter of the "no trespassing" zone around Witt Farm, I cannot post new pictures of the surely much increased flare.

The increased flares will add up to a substantial load of unhealthy chemicals at least in a radius of up to 1 mile. Below are some links to related publications that might be of interest. The majority of materials are from "fracking" operations. Please note that the major difference is that in "fracking" operations much more water is pumped down - and more chemical additives are used, which increases the real danger of water pollution. The risk potential for air pollution, in contrary, as well as escaping gases and volatiles, and pollutants in flares from unconventional oil extraction are comparable to those reported from "fracking operations".

  • Aviva L, Aimee C, Shmuel A, Nicholas B, Constantine S. 2013. Estimation of regional air-quality damages from Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania. Environmental Research Letters 8(1):014017. PDF
  • Bamberger M, Oswald RE. 2012. Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health. New solutions : a journal of environmental and occupational health policy : NS 22(1):51-77. PDF 
  • Colborn T, Kwiatkowski C, Schultz K, Bachran M. 2011. Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal 17(5):1039-1056. PDF
  • Colborn T, Schultz K, Herrick L, Kwiatkowski C. 2012. An Exploratory Study of Air Quality Near Natural Gas Operations. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal 20(1):86-105. Link to the article and other information
  • Katzenstein AS, Doezema LA, Simpson IJ, Blake DR, Rowland FS. 2003. Extensive regional atmospheric hydrocarbon pollution in the southwestern United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100(21):11975-11979. PDF
  • Larson D, Breech R, Hendricks J, Chernaik M, Mall A, Smith F, Joswick J, Eisenfeld M. GASSED! Citizen Investigation of Toxic Air Pollution from Natural Gas Development [Internet]. El Cerrito, CA 94530: Global Community Monitor. Available from:
  • Leahey DM, Preston K, Strosher M. 2001. Theoretical and observational assessments of flare efficiencies. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (1995) 51(12):1610-6. PDF
  • May J. Refinery Flaring in the Neighborhood [Internet]. Oakland, CA 94612: Communities for a Better Environment (CBE). Available from:
  • McKenzie LM, Witter RZ, Newman LS, Adgate JL. 2012. Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources. Science of The Total Environment 424(0):79-87. PDF
  • Perry SL. 2012. ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS AND CASE STUDIES: Addressing the Societal Costs of Unconventional Oil and Gas Exploration and Production: A Framework for Evaluating Short-Term, Future, and Cumulative Risks and Uncertainties of Hydrofracking. Environmental Practice 14(04):352-365. PDF 
  • Strosher MT. 2000. Characterization of emissions from diffusion flare systems. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (1995) 50(10):1723-33. PDF
  • Subra W, Steinzor N. Odor and Symptom Log [Internet]. Available from: