Monday, November 30, 2015

Despite methane explosion, dirty water in rural Texas, officials deny any link to oil and gas industry

Rural Palo Pinto County, Texas, (Wikipedia map) residents in the Barnett Shale region whose water wells were found to be contaminated with dangerous chemicals say state officials are refusing to offer any assistance, Brett Shipp reports for WFAA 8 in Dallas-Fort Worth. According to documents obtained by WFAA, state inspectors found wells containing chemicals "that may pose 'adverse health effects' and an 'explosion hazard.'" State officials, who "suggested the contamination could be due to a 'natural occurrence in the groundwater,'" said "there were no baseline water tests to prove the chemicals did not already exist." The state's solution to property owners was to "vent your water well" and consider "installing a well water aeration system," documents show.

One resident said his or her well water turned completely brown, was full of dirt and smelled of rotten eggs, Shipp writes. Another resident's "water well house filled with methane and exploded, severely burning him, his father and daughter. All three survived, but the wells of both families were ruined." Christopher Hamilton, a lawyer representing both families who are suing two oil and gas companies, told Shipp, "These incredibly unnatural events, from methane spewing out of a shower, to methane exploding in a fireball from a water well, don't match 'naturally occurring.' What they do match are the known risks associated with fracking and gas drilling."

The Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the state's oil and gas industry, refused requests for interviews, Shipp writes. Meanwhile, "despite the test results, the contamination and even a near-fatal explosion—there has been no attempt by state officials to suspend operations of the nearby oil and gas wells until a cause can be determined." (Read more)

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