Monday, July 17, 2006

Grapevine Company Cited for Drilling Violations in Denton County

Lowell Brown of the Denton Record Chronicle has an article on the impact of gas drilling in Denton County.

As development of the Barnett Shale fields travels east, more and more sites in Denton County are being drilled in proximity to home owners. Brown's article highlights the problems facing residents of Briarcreek Estates subdivision in Argyle.

Jennifer Cole didn’t know much about the gas-drilling industry until it arrived at her backdoor.

But when her backyard view changed from 12-acre prairie to potential drilling site last year, the stay-at-home mother started doing her homework.

She’d heard about recent gas-drilling accidents, including one in Palo Pinto County last December where a blowout left a 750-foot-wide crater and burned more than 50 acres. Could something like that, she wondered, happen in her neighborhood?

The residents petitioned government officials to investigate.

Last month, the city of Denton sued Grapevine-based Reichmann Petroleum Corp., claiming the company was operating at area sites — including the one behind Cole’s home and a nearby well — without city approval.....

The company failed to comply with city regulations on attaining plats, posting signs,
erosion control, drainage, security and well site maintenance, according to the lawsuit. City officials say gas lines that aren’t platted could be ruptured during routine utility construction, risking the safety of nearby residents.

Regulation of gas drilling comes under the jurisdiction of the Texas Railroad Commission, but laws generally favor mineral rights over surface rights. The commission has limited authority on placement of equipment, although it is chartered to ensure the purity of the watershed.
The site’s reserve pit of drilling “mud” — a blend of clay, salts, other chemicals and water — abuts the creek line, and neighbors worried a heavy rain could cause it to overflow into the creek. The pit has since been drained.
However, residents are still dealing with the impact of flooding caused by changes in the sites drainge patterns.

[Denton's gas well inspector] said the city would have considered drainage issues during the platting process, had Reichmann complied with it.....

Denton receives royalties from gas wells on city property, including several at Denton Municipal Airport. The Denton school district also has leased land for gas wells, including two at Guyer High School.

To appreciate just how important the impact of gas drilling is in Denton County, view the map.

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