WHAT IS A COMPRESSOR STATION?
As gas moves through a pipeline, it naturally loses speed and pressure. Compressor stations are placed approximately every 40 to 100 miles along a pipeline to add pressure to the gas and keep it flowing.
From pg. 41 of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (7th edition, Dec 2020):
“Drilling and fracking activities are relatively short-term operations, but compressor stations are semi-permanent facilities that pollute the air 24 hours a day as long as gas is flowing through pipelines. Day-to-day emissions from compressor stations are subject to highly episodic variations due to pressure changes and maintenance-related deliberate releases and can create periods of potentially extreme exposures....
Compressor stations are significant sources of air pollutants, including benzene and formaldehyde, constituting potential health risks to those living nearby. According to a 2020 Indiana University study, “Overall, counties with VOC emissions from compressor stations were associated with a higher age-adjusted mortality rate than counties without such emissions.”
A 2019 study of air emissions from 74 compressor stations in New York State found 39 chemicals known to be human carcinogens and documented large releases of greenhouse gases." (Source)
For years, Liveable Arlington has received reports of emissions, unlit flares, venting, odors, people feeling sick, and long-term illness from residents living near compressor stations in Arlington or close to Arlington's borders.
HOW ARE EMISSIONS DETECTED?
Emissions occur at every step of the natural gas extraction and production process, but the majority of what is emitted is invisible to the human eye. With the use of an infrared camera, it is possible to document releases of gas, venting, unlit flares, etc.
Image credit: Earthworks | Photo credit: FLIR