Questions mount after gas well leak, evacuations

ARLINGTON — New concerns are being raised over a natural gas well site that had to be capped over the weekend along Little Road in southwest Arlington.

More than 100 residents living near the drilling operation on the grounds of Lake Arlington Baptist Church were evacuated after Vantage Energy crews noticed natural gas was pushing pressurized fracking water out of the well on Saturday afternoon.

The company said no natural gas actually leaked during the incident. An outside firm was brought in to cap the well on Sunday afternoon.

But while some residents told News 8 they were surprised to see their road blocked off, others — like Shahzad Nazir — said they felt it was only a matter of time.

Nazir said he first noticed "a lot of activity" in late December. Then, he said there was a sharp increase in noise and a pungent smell from the drilling site.

"I made complaints with the state, talked with the city, " he said. "The city explained it as a crack in some type of casing on the well."

Nazir has since sold his house near the well pad and moved elsewhere.

On Sunday, the anti-fracking blog Fish Creek Monitor posted an e-mail from the site operator to the city obtained through a public records request. The message, dated January 13, warns of a "...wellhead/well control issue."

A city spokesman told News 8 on Monday that they were continuing to look into what happened. Mayor Robert Cluck said over the weekend he wants answers.

"I want to find out exactly what happened, how we lost control, or how they lost control," he said.

Vantage Energy spokesman John Moran issued this written statement:

"We extend our sincere apologies to the residents who were affected and inconvenienced by this incident, and can assure them we will take the necessary steps to perform a thorough investigation of the failed wellhead component before resuming operations on the site. We are sincerely grateful to the Arlington Fire Department, Arlington Police Department and Boots and Coots well control specialists for their prompt and professional assistance over the past 24 hours to bring this incident to a safe conclusion."


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