It’s not surprising that more pollution has occurred due to Barnett Shale drilling.
An aquifer is at risk along with property values, livestock, and dreams after gas wells move in.
By PETER GORMAN photos by Jimmy Alford
Brian Beadle knew something was wrong when the registered Boer goats he raises on his small farm near Grandview began swelling up just after Christmas. But when three of his goats and two kids and a llama died within the next few days, the 44-year-old contractor knew he had a major problem on his hands.
He did. His well had just gone bad. Very bad: Its water proved to be loaded with sulfates and a naturally occurring hydrocarbon called toluene, a gasoline additive and solvent that is toxic for humans and animals, causing problems from nausea to deafness, blindness, and, at high enough dosages, death.
Within the next two weeks, Beadle learned that at least two of the other small-acreage landowners near him, in Hill County just south of the Johnson County line, were having similar, extremely serious problems with their wells. All their wells, which had produced clean, healthy water for years, were drilled into the Trinity Woodbine aquifer, which underlies much of North Texas.
The neighbors shared another characteristic: All their properties were within a couple of hundred yards of two gas wells recently drilled by Williams Production-Gulf Coast Co. one producing, the other abandoned and plugged after a drill bit was lost during the fraccing process.
They found toluene in the water. Hydrologists have continued testing, and since the toluene levels have not dropped over time, they have determined that the “solvent which never occurs naturally in fresh water is continuing to enter the aquifer.”
Of course the drilling company did their own testing and they deny any responsibility.
And what is the Railroad Commission doing about it?