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2011-02-10

Imminent & Substantial Endangerments Order issued in Parker County re aquifer contamination

Special to the Courier

Editor's note: An extensive account of this problem was published in the Thursday, Jan. 6, edition of the Bandera County Courier.

The United States Department of Justice filed a complaint on Tuesday, Jan. 18, against Range Production Company and Range Resources Corporation 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 recent complaint, 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.
Those requirements included conducting surveys of private and public water wells in the vicinity, submitting plans for field testing and submitting plans to study how the methane and other contaminants may have migrated from the production wells. In addition, the company was required to submit plans to remediate affected portions of the aquifer.