Air & Water Quality
Railroad Commission’s Active, Ongoing Investigation of Parker County Water Well Complaint
AUSTIN—The Railroad Commission of Texas has been notified that the Environmental Protection Agency is issuing an Endangerment Order for southern Parker County even though the Commission’s investigation is actively ongoing, and Commission staff have made no conclusions about possible sources of natural gas and hydrocarbons found in a water well.
Additionally, no pathways from a deep hydrocarbon source to the water well have been identified.
The RRC began its investigation into this complaint on Aug. 6, 2010 after receiving the initial complaint. The RRC continues to actively investigate the area and the complaint, which involves natural gas found in a 200-foot deep domestic water well in Parker County. Throughout its investigation, the Commission staff has shared data cooperatively with EPA staff.
Range Resources, an operator of two nearby gas wells, also continues to cooperate with Commission staff as part of this investigation. On Friday, Dec. 3, Range Resources agreed to take additional actions including further testing of its well. Also, Range Resources will perform soil gas surveys that may lead to additional environmental investigation activities, monitor gas concentrations, and offer a water supply to the residence.
If the data indicates oil field activities are responsible for the gas found in the water well, the RRC will require assessment, cleanup, and evaluate what fines or penalties may be assessed as necessary.
Railroad Commission Chairman Victor G. Carrillo said "As I repeatedly emphasized to EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz last Friday, EPA's actions are premature as the Railroad Commission continues to actively investigate this issue and has not yet determined the cause of the gas. This EPA action is unprecedented in Texas, and commissioners will consider all options as we move forward.”
Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones said, “I disagree with EPA's premature actions. The Commission bases its decisions on sound science and fact. If this is another EPA action designed to reach pre-determined conclusions and to generate headlines rather than conduct a successful environmental investigation, then the public is poorly served. The Commission will not deny due process to the parties involved in spite of the false claims made against our investigative actions by the EPA staff.”
Commissioner Michael L. Williams said, "This is Washington politics of the worst kind. The EPA's act is nothing more than grandstanding in an effort to interject the federal government into Texas business. The Railroad Commission has been on top of this issue from Day 1. We will continue to take all necessary action to protect Texas lakes, rivers and aquifers. Texans have no interest in Washington doing for Texas what it did for Louisiana fishermen."
Commission activities into this water well investigation are as follows:
August 6, 2010 Landowner files complaint with RRC District Office. Field inspection performed, gas odor noted.
August 10, 2010 RRC staff inspect the Range Butler Unit No. 1-H and Teal Unit No. 1-H production wells nearest the well property. 30 pounds pressure observed on bradenhead of Butler Unit No. 1-H
August 11, 2010 RRC staff inspect the well property and collect water samples.
August 17, 2010 RRC staff return to the well property and re-sample the water well to address quality control issues with first samples.
August 26, 2010 RRC staff return to well property to meet landowner’s consultant and collect gas samples.
August 27, 2010 RRC staff contacts Range and requests gas samples from Range’s production well.
September 2, 2010 Range Production Company samples gas from their Butler Unit No. 1-H well (bradenhead).
September 16, 2010 RRC contacts Range and requests additional gas samples to include bradenhead and production gas, and requests that Range pressure test their well.
September 20, 2010 Range collects samples of bradenhead and production gas.
October 13, 2010 RRC staff contacts local water well driller to discuss the occurrence of natural gas in water wells drilled in the area. RRC staff requests documentation.
October 14, 2010 Range performs pressure test of production casing from a point just below the top of cement to the surface. The well holds 845 pounds per square inch (psi), and no leaks were observed.
October 25, 2010 RRC staff contact Range and request additional samples of gas from the Butler Unit No. 1-H to include gas lift, bradenhead and production gas.
October 26, 2010 Range collects additional gas samples at the same time that the EPA collects gas and water samples.
November 23, 2010 EPA sends results of gas and water samples to RRC staff in Austin and requests attendance at a proposed meeting.
December 1, 2010 RRC staff call EPA to discuss sample results. Learns that the meeting has been postponed.
December 3, 2010 RRC receives letter from Range who agrees to ntake additional actions.