Stillwater anti-fracking group claims infrared camera finds pollution at oil & gas sites

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

STILLWATER, Okla. - A grassroots group in Stillwater says they have video that shows invisible pollution happening in their community.

They say it’s coming from oil and gas sites.

The non-profit group, Earthworks, brought their $100,000 infrared camera to several different well sites in Payne and Kay counties.

Local residents say they were disturbed at the amount of air pollution they found.

“It looks at sites like this and it can show the plumes of gases that are leaking from the site,” said Dakota Raynes, a member of Stop Fracking Payne County.

One of the worst offenders, according to Earthworks, was a well site across from Couch Park in Stillwater.

Their FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) camera shows what the naked eye can’t see, gases escaping from a tank.

“Highest possibility for oil and gas is methane which is an even worse greenhouse gas emission than carbon dioxide,” said Raynes.  “Oftentimes, leaks are coming from the tops of tanks.”

Stop Fracking Payne County asked Earthworks to bring their camera and took them all around the county.

Raynes says they found leaks at every site they visited.

“A lot of these leaks that we saw were things like thief hatches left open.  They could be something as simple as a seal that could be fixed,” said Raynes.

“It seemed that their goal was more to incite people than to educate them,” said A.J. Ferate, with the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.

Ferate says these tanks can’t be airtight or they would explode and that a certain amount of emissions are allowed under the law.

He also says these videos don’t tell us exactly what is leaking.

“What you can actually see on any given day might be water vapor one day, it could be emissions on another,” said Ferate.

Members of Stop Fracking Payne County plan to take the video to state regulators to see if anything can be done.