A FLIR camera image reveals pollution billowing from an Arlington drill site, operated by Total and its subsidiary TEEP Barnett. Image courtesy of Earthworks.

May 24, 2024

An Arlington watchdog group says a report from a six-month investigation of Arlington gas well sites released on Thursday proves what they've been warning for years —  that gas wells in suburban DFW are chronically leaking dangerous emissions, putting residents at risk.

“In Arlington, Texas, the dangerous pollution from these wells robs our children of a healthy and livable community and contributes to multiple public health crises — with neighborhoods of color paying the highest price,” says Ranjana Bhandari, founder and executive director of Liveable Arlington

The interactive report commissioned by D.C.-based Earthworks, in partnership with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Liveable Arlington, Climate Nexus and FracTracker Alliance, is titled Total Disregard, a reference to its focus on well sites owned by Total Energies

The French energy giant Total owns and operates around 1,800 active or permitted wells under its subsidiary TEEP Barnett USA. All of them lie in the Fort Worth Basin of the Barnett Shale. According to Earthworks, the Fort Worth Basin, located in urban Dallas-Fort Worth, is the most heavily populated active fracking basin in the United States. 

Earthworks estimates that more than 400,000 North Texas residents live within a half-mile radius of the wells owned and operated by TEEP Barnett.

An interactive map pinpoints all of Total gas wells in North Texas. The outer circle is the half-mile distance Earthworks calls the Threat Radius. Courtesy of Earthworks. See Dangerously Close in the report.


The Earthworks investigation focused on 25 of Total’s 28 gas well sites in Arlington. Only three of Total Arlington sites were not included in the study due to logistics issues.

Green Source DFW spoke to Earthworks corporate accountability campaign manager Josh Eisenfeld, who analyzed the data and wrote the report.

Eisenfeld said Earthworks has a 10-year history of capturing gas well emissions with thermography across the U.S. but this is their first long-term scientific study on gas well emissions. They selected Arlington as a prime example of Total’s concentrated urban fracking.

Earthworks hired Tim Doty, a Texas-based certified thermographer, a highly regarded expert in the field. Doty worked for three decades at Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as an environmental scientist, where he helped create TCEQ’s thermography program.

For the study, Doty filmed a few days each month at each of the 25 sites, starting in August 2023 through January 2024. Using a FLIR optical gas imaging camera, Doty documented emissions at 14 of the sites. Out of 307 total site visits, he captured emissions on 85 site visits.

TEP Barnett (TotalEnergies SE) - Palos Verdes Well Site - Arlington, TX (December 04, 2023)

Emissions recorded by a FLIR optical gas imaging camera at Total's Palos Verdes Well Site in Arlington on Dec. 4, 2023. Courtesy of Earthworks.

The fracking sites and the number of days when emissions were recorded were Cornerstone (1), Stoner (2), Truman (2), Mansfield (3), Agape (5), Bruder (5), Day (5), Galetta (5), Matlock (5), High Point (7), GM (9), I20 JV (10), Palo Verdes (10),  and Duke Well (16). (Click on the site names to see all FLIR videos taken at each site. Click on Pollution By Site in the report to see descriptions of each site. )

While Earthwork's camera was not able to discern which pollutants were present, Eisenfeld says the emissions likely included methane, an invisible, highly potent greenhouse gas that routinely leaks from pipes, compressors and tanks.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

Methane emissions occur in all segments of the natural gas industry, from production, through processing and transmission, to distribution. They primarily result from normal operations, routine maintenance, fugitive leaks, and system upsets.”

“Methane is more than 28 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere,” says the EPA on its website.


The city of Arlington posts a list of gas wells in the city. Out of 48, 28 are owned and operated by Total. The remaining 20 are owned by five other companies, making Total the dominant operator in the city.

In 2016, Total purchased most of Chesapeake’s Barnett Shale assets. Since then, Bhandari, the director of Liveable Arlington, has been an outspoken critic of Total, which is one of the few oil and gas companies currently drilling new wells in Tarrant County.

Bhandari has repeatedly called out Total in city council meetings for seeking setback waivers to drill less than 600 feet to homes, schools and day care centers, despite new studies that show health experts recommend greater setbacks than are currently in practice.

According to the Earthworks report, 75 percent of the fracking sites in the study were within 200 meters of homes, and 54 percent of the sites were within 100 meters. At least 11 visits found pollution at operations less than 600 feet from childcare centers.

Green Source DFW reached out to Total and TEEP Barnett for comment:

“It is important to note that none of the NGOs mentioned contacted our local teams to verify or discuss these allegations before the publication of their report," said Leslie Garvis, manager of government relations and public affairs exploration and production for Total Energies E&P Barnett USA, by email. "This lack of communication undermines the transparency and accuracy of information while we are always ready to discuss and provide accurate and factual information about our operations. Please be aware that Total Energies E&P Barnett operates its sites in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, in accordance with the standards  of the City of Arlington and the State of Texas.”

But Earthwork's Eisenfeld hopes the report will be a wake up call for the energy company.

“You hope that Total after seeing the facts would reconsider how they operate in the area,” said Eisenfeld. “It's hard to imagine that they would want to consciously put people's health at risk once they know that this is happening.”


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Arlington denies gas well permit after activists file lawsuit

Drill site near Arlington preschool shut down

New gas wells denied in east Arlington

Portable air monitors are latest tool for North Texas activists

Changes to Arlington gas drilling ordinance fall short, activists say

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