Convinced that the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in their town was polluting the air and violating a local ordinance, residents of Colleyville, Texas purchased their own air testing supplies to determine if fracking was threatening their health. Residents in neighboring Southlake have sued their town to stop the drilling in their town, claiming it violated an ordinance there, too.
While in both cases the towns proved that fracking has not chemically contaminated the air in their cities, the actions of the residents point to growing concerns over the safety of fracking sites in Texas.
Concerns in Colleyville
Colleyville has an ordinance that sets limits on the amount of volatile organic compounds drilling companies may release into the atmosphere. The city has one approved gas site and seven wells across the municipality. Since no pipeline is connected to the site, all the wells are capped.
Despite this, residents are concerned that the drilling in their town is emitting harmful chemicals into the air. Chemicals commonly used in fracking include benzene, xylene and ethylbenzene. One resident, a physician with a toxicology background, explained that when the government fails to protect its citizens, it is up to citizens to protect themselves. This belief prompted residents to purchase their own test kits to examine Colleyville's air quality. The town subsequently performed its own tests and found chemicals were within acceptable levels.
A Lawsuit in Southlake
Down the road from Colleyville, Southlake residents sued their town to stop the development of a drilling site, claiming that development would violate an air quality ban in that city. The suit was dropped when the city hired an independent inspector to check air quality, which was found to be within acceptable range according to the ordinance.
Though Residents May be Safe, Are Workers?
While air quality tests in both towns found acceptable contaminant levels, drilling sites remain hazardous environments for workers. Employees are subjected to confined spaces, gas leaks, electrical hazards and dangerous chemicals and other materials. Workers injured on the job may hold their employers liable if unsafe workplace conditions caused the injuries.
In one recent example, two workers were recently injured in south Texas when there was an explosion at the site where the duo was cleaning a fracking tank. The company that owns the site has been cited for numerous safety violations, including requiring workers to clean tanks without first conducting tests on the air quality to ensure the tank is safe for workers.
If you live near or work at a fracking site and believe your injury or illness may be a result of drilling, contact an experienced personal injury attorney as you may be entitled to compensation.