Frackers Receive Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Order from EPA

by TXsharon on December 7, 2010

in EPA, hydraulic fracturing, ISEO, Range Resources

UPDATE: For the best reporting to date on this case see: Better reporting on Range Resources water contamination case in Parker County, it is a long but essential read if you are interested in this case.

Hat tip to Region 6 EPA for protecting our drinking water!

EPA Issues an Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Order to Protect Drinking Water in Southern Parker County

Agency orders Range Natural Gas Company to stop the contamination of Methane and Other Contaminants into drinking water near multiple residences

People in Parker County have bubbly, fizzy and flammable water; not a good combination unless you are mixing up a Fractini.

EPA testing has confirmed that extremely high levels of methane in their water pose an imminent and substantial risk of explosion or fire. EPA has also found other contaminants including benzene, which can cause cancer, in their drinking water.

EPA used “isotopic fingerprint analysis” to determine that the gas in the water wells matched the gas from Range Resources gas well.

Railroad Commission officials “acknowledge that there is natural gas in the drinking water wells,” Armendariz said. “They want more data and believe that action now is premature. I believe I’ve got two people whose houses could explode. So we’ve got to move.” Dallas Morning News (link below)

HERE is the entire press release.

HERE is the order.“>HERE is the letter to Range Resources.

WFAA report is HERE.

WSJ article is HERE.

DMN report is HERE.

“We know they’ve polluted the aquifer,” Armendariz said. “We know they’re getting natural gas in there. We don’t know yet how far it’s spread.”

Texas Observer‘s Forrest Wilder article is HERE.

Houston Chronicle is HERE.

UPDATE: A timeline constructed from the EPA order: The numbers in the timeline correspond with the numbers in the EPA order which contains detailed information about the incredibly thorough investigation.

Domestic Well #1

  • #8. lies approximately 120′ from the horizontal well bore
  • #12. April 2005 water well was drilled and neither water well driller nor owner noticed any signs of gas in the water well.
  • #5. August 2009, production began from the Range Resources well.
  • #14. December 2009, water well begins to effervesce.

Domestic Well #2

  • #9. lies approximately 470′ from the horizontal well bore.
  • #34. August 2002 water well was drilled and neither water well driller nor owner noticed any signs of gas in the water well.
  • #5. August 2009, production began from the Range Resources well.
  • #36. May 2010, the owner of Domestic Well 2 first noticed that the water had begun to effervesce.

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Tillotson December 7, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Look for a lot of spin of "this is an isolated, one time incident" – "this is due to a unique geological feature beyond our control" – blah blah blah.

I hope the EPA fines Range Resources eleventy gazillion dollars for recklessly endangering the communities those scumbags are operating in – ESPECIALLY since they've been stiff arming people for so long.

The only thing these companies understand is MONEY – so the EPA is going to have to hit them in the wallet.


Don Young December 8, 2010 at 1:06 am

There is a God after all! FW bus wraps to the contrary. apparently there is no Star Telegram though.


Anonymous December 8, 2010 at 1:34 am

What? The Texas Railroad Commission didn't take action?! What a surprise. I wonder if they have figured out that everyone gave up on them a long time ago. Not that they care. They are serving interests other than public health and safety.

Way to go EPA!! You are doing great! We need someone looking out for public, not private, interests Thank you!!!


zoe December 8, 2010 at 2:03 am

I want to know the depth of the wells, and then, how long it will take for the water to travel down the aquifer to other municipalities.

I think, this would be important to understanding the impact of our 'global' water. What speed is the water traveling, and in which direction?


zoe December 8, 2010 at 2:04 am

Oh and thank you big man upstairs for hearing our plight. This is a small victory that we need to be grateful for.


Tillotson December 8, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I've been told time and time again – "wait on the science – this is too important to play politics with"

Interesting that the TRRC has gone full political so quickly (when faced with science like isotope fingerprinting) on this action. From the Fort Worth Star Telegram:

TRRC Commissioner Michael Williams – "The EPA's act is nothing more than grandstanding in an effort to interject the federal government into Texas business. The Railroad Commission has been on top of this issue from Day One. We will continue to take all necessary action to protect Texas lakes, rivers and aquifers. Texans have no interest in Washington doing for Texas what it did for Louisiana fishermen."


TXsharon December 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm

That is stunning! Sadly, there are still many who agree and scream "states rights." I think it will take many more cases of contaminated water and more sick people from toxic air before Texans get a clue.

The problem is that most victims do not speak out for one or all of these reasons:

Intimidation by industry
Gag orders from their attorneys
Hush money from industry


Anonymous December 8, 2010 at 9:53 pm

When ignorance speaks louder than research and truth.

The lack of regulation over the oil and gas industry is what lead to the fate of the LA fishermen.

And is killing my neighbors and my family.

The fact that many Americans are not willing to reduce their use, is truly to blame.

We really can only blame ourselves and our over consumption.


Mike H. December 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm

The TRRC can't even find the source of the ground water pollution at McAllen TX. Maybe they should ask the EPA for help on how to do isotopic testing.


TXsharon December 9, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Mike H, tell them I know the source of the pollution in McAllen. It's right here in my blog post.

Texas Railroad Commission Ignores 33 Acre Environmental Disaster Until Exposed by Media

They would be a lot smarter if they read my blog.


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