Environmental groups come to Cuero to inform public of possible hazards
Cuero Record | Coy Slavik
June 15, 2011
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Thomaston’s Toby Frederick felt he had all the proof he needed in a one-gallon jug.
Frederick was one of about 50 people who attended Saturday afternoon’s free educational forum “The Dark Side of the Boom: How Gas Drilling in Texas Threatens Public Health and Safety” presented by the Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project at the Cuero Municipal Park clubhouse.
Frederick brought with him a jug of water he said he drew from a well on his 178 acres near Thomaston. Frederick said he began noticing a foul odor and discoloration in his water about a year and a half ago. He said an oil company blew out some casing during a hydraulic fracturing job northeast of his property.
Frederick let former Dish, Texas, mayor Calvin Tillman, one of Saturday’s speakers who is featured in the documentary “Gasland,” smell the water, which both said had an odor of diesel.
Frederick said he contacted the Texas Railroad Commission and it conducted water tests on the water in the 280-foot well. He said he ws told by the Railroad Commission that a toxologist deemed the water drinkable.
“They said it was under the limits,” Frederick said.
Frederick said he also had water from the well tested by a Victoria lab and the results and sent samples to the Pecan Valley Ground Water Conservation District six or seven months ago. He said the Victoria lab confirmed traces of benzene, a known carcinogen, in his water. Frederick said he was frustrated that he never received sample results from Pecan Valley.
Tillman was joined by Sharon Wilson, the Texas organizer for the Oil and Gas Accountability Project.
Tillman told residents to educate themselves before they lease their land to oil companies.
“Everybody likes to make money, but there is another side to the coin,” said Tillman, who described problems he went through as mayor of Dish during the Barnett Shale boom in North Texas. “When somebody knocks on your door and wants to right you a check, you should probably think about that. Do a little research and try to learn the entire picture.”
Tillman was also critical of the Railroad Commission’s efforts to monitor the state’s air and water quality.
“We can’t fund education, but we can fund the Railroad Commission,” Tillman said. “I know there are good people with the Railroad Commission and they have to have jobs, but I don’t agree that that is a good organization.”
Wilson, who said she worked in the oil and gas industry, stated ordeals she went through in North Texas with the Barnett Shale.
“I know the industry likes to say that there are no documented cases of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing,” Wilson said. “What landowners in the Barnett Shale know is that when hydraulic fracturing occurs, water contamination occurred.
“The industry should quit denying the obvious and get busy solving the problem.”
Tillman and Wilson were not able to make their planned Power-Point presentations due to a power outage at the clubhouse.
Anyone with environmental concerns or questions can contact the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project at 940-389-1622 or visit texasgoap.earthworksaction.org.
On Thursday, the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality put on a workshop for local government officials at the DeWitt County courthouse.
About 100 people attended the vent and heard from several TECQ officials concerning hydraulic fracturing, saltwater disposal, water quality, air quality, and waste disposal.