Fort Worth residents raise concerns about drilling dangers

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by CHRIS HAWES

WFAA

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 11:21 PM

FORT WORTH — The State of New York wants to stop the same drilling process used every day in the Barnett Shale. Empire State legislators worry about the impact of chemicals used in the "fracking" process on drinking water.

At a meeting Thursday night in Fort Worth, citizens wondered if they should be worried as well.

Drilling in New York has been on hold since 2008. Legislation passed Thursday in their Senate would extend the ban.

Kelly Marksberry lives near natural gas production facilities in the Barnett Shale. She worries about the chemicals used in the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

"Not all of the chemicals have been been disclosed, but the ones they have disclosed are very alarming," Marksberry said.

At a Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods meeting Thursday night, citizens questioned why the list of chemicals isn't made public.

Scientist Wilma Subra studies the environmental impact of drilling. "There is the potential for contamination of the water sewer system from these sites," she said.

But Ed Ireland, executive director of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, which is backed by the major energy companies in North Texas, disputed that assertion.

"The possibility that somehow that fluid would migrate through 6,000 feet of rock to a water table is extremely low," he said.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates drilling in the state, agrees. In a written statement, the agency said it has no evidence of contamination.

"Even with the recent intense hydraulic fracturing activity in the Barnett Shale of more than 13,000 gas wells, there have been no documented cases of groundwater pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing in Texas," the TRC statement said.

There is, however, no continuous monitoring of water near natural gas production facilities. Investigations are prompted by citizen or state concerns.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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