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.
U.S. Takes Action to Protect Public Health and Enforce EPA Imminent and Substantial Endangerments Order in Southern Parker County
(DALLAS – January 18, 2010) The United States Department of Justice filed a complaint today against Range Production Company and Range Resources Corporation (“Range”) in federal district court, seeking enforcement of a Dec. 7, 2010, emergency order issued by the Environmental Protection Agency against the companies. In the order, the EPA determined that Range had caused or contributed to the contamination of a drinking water aquifer in Parker County, Texas. The complaint asks the Dallas court to direct the companies to comply with portions of the order and to pay a civil penalty of up to $16,500 per day of violation.
EPA issued the order following an investigation into complaints from residents about methane contamination in their private drinking water wells. According to allegations in the complaint filed today, testing confirmed the presence of methane gas and the presence of other contaminants, including benzene, a known human carcinogen, in the well water
Residents noticed problems with their private drinking water wells soon after Range completed drilling and well stimulation operations on two natural gas wells located near the residents’ drinking water wells. During the course of conducting its investigation and while consulting with various state authorities, EPA determined that the risk of explosion warranted the issuance of an emergency order.
While Range offered to provide two affected residences alternative drinking water and installed explosivity meters in their homes after issuance of the emergency order, it has failed to comply with other requirements to conduct surveys of private and public water wells in the vicinity, to submit plans for field testing, and to submit plans to study how the methane and other contaminants may have migrated from the production wells, in addition to plans to remediate affected portions of the aquifer.
A little more than a month ago — and before the Environmental Protection Agency assumed control of Texas’s greenhouse gas permitting — the EPA looked to be drawing a line in the sand over water contamination from gas drilling in the Barnett Shale, with an emergency order for Fort Worth-based Range Resources to address water contamination worries at a pair of North Texas wells.
Examiners with the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas production, are scheduled to hear from the commission’s staff, homeowner Steven Lipsky and Range Production, a Fort Worth-based gas company, at a hearing in Austin.
They are not expected to hear from the Environmental Protection Agency, which told the commission it would not participate.
The EPA said it doesn’t matter what the Three Stooges decide because their order still stands.
For more information see: