Tuesday, 30 September 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Barnett Shale Fracking Victims Win First Round in Court Battle With Gas Industry

Sunday, 27 April 2014 10:09 By Julie Dermansky, DeSmogBlog | Report

In Denton, Texas, residents live with drilling activity at well pads as close as 200 feet from homes. (Photo: ©2013 Julie Dermansky)In Denton, Texas, residents live with drilling activity at well pads as close as 200 feet from homes. (Photo: ©2013 Julie Dermansky)

Legal tremors are reverberating in the Barnett Shale region in Texas after the $2.925 million verdict in favor of the plaintiffs Bob and Lisa Parr, who sued Aruba Petroleum for damages to their health and the devaluation of their home in a fracking nuisance case.

Earthworks energy program director Bruce Baizel stated in a press release that the jury’s decision is important for two reasons:

When evidence of fracking’s impacts are shown to an impartial jury in a court of law, they find them to be real and significant. And it shows why the fracking industry is reluctant to allow lawsuits of this type to go to trial. Instead fracking companies try to force out of court settlements that gag the harmed family as a condition for financial compensation. They almost always succeed, hiding from the public the proof of fracking’s dangers. Consequently, industry and government continue claiming fracking is harmless. We hope this lawsuit will make regulators, in Texas and around the country, reexamine their assumptions about fracking’s dangers, and their responsibility to keep the public safe.”

The Parrs were part of an Earthworks' study entitled "Natural Gas Flowback: The Dark Side of the Boom." The study complied data on the health effects of hydraulic fracking and gas industry activities in the Barnett Shale.

According to the report, Lisa Parr's blood and lungs were tested by Dr. William Rae of the Environmental Health Center in Dallas. The report states that Dr. Rae “found more than 20 chemicals, including six that matched the VOCs detected by TCEQ’s air sampling of the well site.”

The Parrs’ neighbors, the Ruggieros, also had to deal with the health consequences and nuisances caused by Aruba Petroleum’s operations including noise and air pollution. They settled and signed a confidentiality agreement. Though Tim Ruggiero doesn't discuss the settlement or Aruba Petroleum, he wrote a personal essay, “Leaving Gasland,” concluding that for him “Leaving Gasland is not winning, it’s merely an end to losing.”

Aruba Petroleum released a statement to ThinkProgress stating, “The facts of the case and the law as applied to those facts do not support the verdict,” and that “Aruba is an experienced oil and gas operator that is in compliance within the air quality limits set by the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.”  

Barbara Brown with medications she takes for health problems developed after franking intensified near her Reno, Texas home. She lives less than a mile from a franking site and a wastewater disposal site. Her home has been damaged by an earthquake swarm that started rattling the ground in November, 2013, shortly after the disposal plant began operation. (Photo: ©2014 Julie Dermansky)Barbara Brown with medications she takes for health problems developed after franking intensified near her Reno, Texas home. She lives less than a mile from a franking site and a wastewater disposal site. Her home has been damaged by an earthquake swarm that started rattling the ground in November, 2013, shortly after the disposal plant began operation. (Photo: ©2014 Julie Dermansky)

The Parr case has already started to redefine what winning can look like, even though Aruba Petroleum is likely to appeal.

“We hope this lawsuit will make regulators, in Texas and around the country, reexamine their assumptions about fracking’s dangers, and their responsibility to keep the public safe,” Baizel says.

Click here to view a slide show of images taken in the Barnett Shale region in Texas.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Julie Dermansky

Julie Dermansky is a multimedia reporter and an affiliate scholar at The Center for the Study of Genocide. Follow Julie on Twitter @jsdart.


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Barnett Shale Fracking Victims Win First Round in Court Battle With Gas Industry

Sunday, 27 April 2014 10:09 By Julie Dermansky, DeSmogBlog | Report

In Denton, Texas, residents live with drilling activity at well pads as close as 200 feet from homes. (Photo: ©2013 Julie Dermansky)In Denton, Texas, residents live with drilling activity at well pads as close as 200 feet from homes. (Photo: ©2013 Julie Dermansky)

Legal tremors are reverberating in the Barnett Shale region in Texas after the $2.925 million verdict in favor of the plaintiffs Bob and Lisa Parr, who sued Aruba Petroleum for damages to their health and the devaluation of their home in a fracking nuisance case.

Earthworks energy program director Bruce Baizel stated in a press release that the jury’s decision is important for two reasons:

When evidence of fracking’s impacts are shown to an impartial jury in a court of law, they find them to be real and significant. And it shows why the fracking industry is reluctant to allow lawsuits of this type to go to trial. Instead fracking companies try to force out of court settlements that gag the harmed family as a condition for financial compensation. They almost always succeed, hiding from the public the proof of fracking’s dangers. Consequently, industry and government continue claiming fracking is harmless. We hope this lawsuit will make regulators, in Texas and around the country, reexamine their assumptions about fracking’s dangers, and their responsibility to keep the public safe.”

The Parrs were part of an Earthworks' study entitled "Natural Gas Flowback: The Dark Side of the Boom." The study complied data on the health effects of hydraulic fracking and gas industry activities in the Barnett Shale.

According to the report, Lisa Parr's blood and lungs were tested by Dr. William Rae of the Environmental Health Center in Dallas. The report states that Dr. Rae “found more than 20 chemicals, including six that matched the VOCs detected by TCEQ’s air sampling of the well site.”

The Parrs’ neighbors, the Ruggieros, also had to deal with the health consequences and nuisances caused by Aruba Petroleum’s operations including noise and air pollution. They settled and signed a confidentiality agreement. Though Tim Ruggiero doesn't discuss the settlement or Aruba Petroleum, he wrote a personal essay, “Leaving Gasland,” concluding that for him “Leaving Gasland is not winning, it’s merely an end to losing.”

Aruba Petroleum released a statement to ThinkProgress stating, “The facts of the case and the law as applied to those facts do not support the verdict,” and that “Aruba is an experienced oil and gas operator that is in compliance within the air quality limits set by the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.”  

Barbara Brown with medications she takes for health problems developed after franking intensified near her Reno, Texas home. She lives less than a mile from a franking site and a wastewater disposal site. Her home has been damaged by an earthquake swarm that started rattling the ground in November, 2013, shortly after the disposal plant began operation. (Photo: ©2014 Julie Dermansky)Barbara Brown with medications she takes for health problems developed after franking intensified near her Reno, Texas home. She lives less than a mile from a franking site and a wastewater disposal site. Her home has been damaged by an earthquake swarm that started rattling the ground in November, 2013, shortly after the disposal plant began operation. (Photo: ©2014 Julie Dermansky)

The Parr case has already started to redefine what winning can look like, even though Aruba Petroleum is likely to appeal.

“We hope this lawsuit will make regulators, in Texas and around the country, reexamine their assumptions about fracking’s dangers, and their responsibility to keep the public safe,” Baizel says.

Click here to view a slide show of images taken in the Barnett Shale region in Texas.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Julie Dermansky

Julie Dermansky is a multimedia reporter and an affiliate scholar at The Center for the Study of Genocide. Follow Julie on Twitter @jsdart.


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