A Texas jury has awarded nearly $3 million to a family for illnesses they suffered from exposure to contaminated groundwater, solid toxic waste and airborne chemicals generated by natural gas fracking operations surrounding their 40-acre ranch, attorneys on the case said.
The verdict, delivered Tuesday, is seen as a landmark decision for opponents of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing — a process in which high-pressure fluid is injected into the ground to fracture shale rock and release natural gas.
“We hope this verdict will prompt companies that engage in fracking operations to take responsibility for the health problems and property damage caused by their activities,” said David Matthews of Matthews & Associates, one of the law firms that represented the family, in an email statement to Al Jazeera.
Up to 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid, and they include known human carcinogens, according to a press release from Matthews & Associates. Studies indicate that only 30 to 50 percent of those fluids are recovered, with the rest of the nonbiodegradable chemicals left in the ground.
Plaintiffs Bob and Lisa Parr sued Texas-based Aruba Petroleum in 2011 over its fracking activities that they said polluted their 40-acre ranch, lowered their property’s value and sickened their family, pets and livestock.Taking responsibility for health problems and property damage? Ha, that's a good one! Anyone paying attention knows that's not how our energy barons operate. These Private Empires are laws unto themselves.
The Texas company that stirred controversy by applying to drill for oil in Florida panther habitat was doing more with one of its wells than what its state permit allowed.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection on Friday afternoon revealed that it had fined the Dan A. Hughes Co. $25,000 for violating its permit. The violation involves using a process that sounds like fracking — although the word "fracking" appears nowhere in either Friday's DEP news release or the legal paperwork about the fine from 10 days earlier.
Instead, the 12-page consent order, dated April 8, says DEP officials became concerned about a "workover operation" that the Texas company launched without DEP permission in late December 2013. The well site is on an island surrounded by the National Audubon Society's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a major nesting site for wood storks. DEP officials told Hughes to stop right away.Stop that or we'll get really mad! Talk about pansies.
There may be some places in the world where fracking can be done in a responsible manner. One of those places is most certainly not here in Florida, where the permeable and cavernous limestone foundation of the state makes segregating the toxic fracking chemicals from the drinking water supply unlikely if not impossible.
Meanwhile in Germany they are producing the majority of their energy from renewables and recently hit the 75% mark using a combination of wind and solar. If only we had some sunshine here in Florida.