In Parker County, Regulators Forced to Revisit Allegations that Drilling Caused Contaminated Water

Categories: Environment

lipsky.jpg
Monica Fuentes
Last year, we brought you the story of Steve Lipsky, whose little slice of paradise in Parker County became a proxy in the war between the EPA and state regulators. It wasn't long after Range Resources began stimulating a nearby natural gas well by hydraulic fracturing that Lipsky noticed his water was bubbling, and that his well was vapor-locking.

Railroad Commission of Texas investigators came out to take a look. They cited Range after they found pressure on the braden head of its well, meaning gas could be escaping up the wellbore. Months passed and state regulators seemed no closer to establishing a cause for the excess gas in Lipsky's well -- gas he could set aflame even as water issued from the same pipe. Finally, concluding the state wouldn't act, the EPA issued an endangerment order against Range, the first of its kind in Texas. State regulators responded in short order by dropping the notice of violation against Range and holding a hearing that was more like a trial in which one side presents its case -- Range's, largely.

The company was exonerated, and has been locked in a legal battle with Lipsky ever since. Its victory before the commission, it appears, may not be the final word. EnergyWire has a scoop indicating that the commission is once again investigating Lipsky's and other water wells in Parker County. At least four homeowners say the methane contamination in their water is only getting worse.

In one commission inspection report, a family had to install a specialized methane stripper in their water system because the usual one couldn't handle the extremely high levels of gas. A Duke University research group told the family that testing indicated gas levels in their water had reached "the saturation point." A consultant hired by Lipsky, EnergyWire reports, told investigators the indoor gas levels in one home were so high that there was a danger of asphyxiation.

Range, which no longer owns the wells, has always contended that the gas-suffused water is natural, a result of some water wells being drilled into a shallow gas formation. Lipsky's water-well driller testified that it held no gas when he sank it into the Trinity Aquifer.

Eager to enlist Range's participation in its landmark fracking study, EPA dropped the charges against Range, and the company agreed to conduct further monitoring of the water. According to EnergyWire, the new investigation could bring the case back before the commission. Only this time, it sounds like they'll hear testimony from homeowners.


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6 comments
kimfeil
kimfeil

Things R coming to a head in the Barnett Shale for those NOT owning water wells...over the years I’ve seen people testify at City Council meetings about how their foundations are shifting more so than ever before since the drilling....it may have taken years for the REAL damage to show itself, but the sheer number of water main breaks (sewer too because of that smell folks are talking about) in Arlington tell a new story...especially since in the past we’ve been through worse heat and worse lapses without rain...now when the rains come...all hell is breaking loose in Arlington gasland Texas....homes are settling at rates like folks have NEVER seen before and the difference is coincidently fracking that occurred nearby? In speaking to an Atmos guy while checking out a sizable sinkhole across the street from my home, he complained that his foundations were cracking on two of his properties...since drilling. In my backyard, I’m noting a small sinkhole thats growing and I’ve lived here for 23 years now. I’ve come to the conclusion that my first $85 royalty check verified that I’ve been drilled under and it came with a new price (besides all the $$ we spent on chemo/radiation)....and that price is ground subsidence. I made this video last Wednesday please check it out ...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poK5cOjMDro


schermbeck
schermbeck

This can't possibly be true because the gas industry keeps telling the Dallas Plan Commission that fracking has never caused any kind of contamination in air or water.

fracquestions
fracquestions

The fraud and deceit of the RCT, TCEQ and the EPA, coupled with the lies of Range Resources, will be undone when the truth is exposed. How coincidental could it possibly be that, all across America, gas producers drill wells and then methane appears in peoples' water wells where it never appeared before?

It takes a very stupid, close-minded leap of faith to believe that every single case is just "natural" contamination where it never occurred in the past. But, knowing the oil and gas industry as I do, they will continue denying complicity because they will NEVER acknowledge the truth or accept responsibility for their failures. It's just how they play the game.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Feed that water to the RRC at their next mtg. Assholes.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

I know how this will end.

Lipsky and the other homeowners are gonna get a bill for the "stolen" gas they're piping out through their water wells.

fracquestions
fracquestions

@schermbeck And we know that the gas industry always tells the truth and they never lie ... except when their lips are moving!

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