Along both sides of the 30-mile stretch of state highway connecting Fort Stockton with Imperial TX are posted more than 30 “Caution: Poison Gas”, “Caution: H2S Gas Present” and other warnings that “breathing while driving” here is a risky proposition.
Around 10am CT on Sunday 31 August 2014, record-holding long distance motorcycle rider and anti-fascist activist IronBoltBruce rode north from the West Texas Permian Basin oil town of Ft. Stockton on Texas highway FM 1053 carrying a 27-shot Western Family disposable camera purchased from Lowe’s Market he intended to use to take pictures of his grandson’s 13 acres located just south of Imperial. Instead, he exhausted his film supply taking pictures of the dozens of “Caution: Poison Gas Present” and similar warning signs he was alarmed to see pervasively posted along both sides of the road [many visible on Google Maps Street View: goo.gl/maps/GybWP].
“Who are these signs supposed to protect?” IronBoltBruce asked. “The passengers of vehicles motoring through this poison gas gauntlet? If so, how should the drivers of those vehicles react? If a pregnant mother rolls up her windows, will she and her children in the back seat be safe or will it make no difference? And what about those whose vehicles have no windows? Should motorcyclists don gas masks before traversing Texas FM 1053?”
IronBoltBruce provides compelling empirical evidence that the ecocidal hydraulic fracturing oil well stimulation technique and shale gas extraction process commonly called “fracking” that has brought earthquakes to Arlington [bit.ly/1rMSm6Y] and contamination to Karnes City [bit.ly/1bIG8eb] is also polluting the air and ecology of the Permian Basin with hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and other fracking-related toxic gas emissions. H2S is a broad-spectrum poison that can affect humans and animals in many different ways. Exposure to lower concentrations can produce eye irritation, sore throat and cough, nausea, shortness of breath and fluid in the lungs. Long-term, low-level exposure can result in fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability and dizziness. Short-term, high-level exposure can induce immediate collapse with loss of breathing and a high probability of death [bit.ly/ZhXzwN].
That drivers, riders and passengers along Texas Highway FM 1053 are being exposed to H2S is a certainty. ClimateScienceWatch.org advises the other toxins they are likely to be inhaling include “…volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, a carcinogen; sulfur dioxide and particulates; carbon monoxide; and carbon disulfide. VOCs can mix with nitrogen oxides to create ozone. They can cause a range of ailments, some so serious the federal government has set worker safety standards [but] there are no clear standards to protect people living [or driving] near drilling sites [bit.ly/1qmxFmY].”
According to Weather.com, people who live close to or otherwise have extended exposure to “…oil and gas development – whether in Texas’ Eagle Ford, Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale or Wyoming’s Green River Basin – tend to report the same symptoms: nausea, nosebleeds, headaches, body rashes and respiratory problems. Public health experts say these shared experiences point to a pressing need for improved air monitoring [bit.ly/1bIG8eb].” But in a state where politics is dominated and politicians largely controlled by “Big Oil” [bit.ly/1cmPv0P], experts see little chance of that happening [bit.ly/1lXSPGU].