Arlington, TX, Apr 13 — Saturday a gas well in the heart of West Arlington blew out while being fracked, forcing the evacuation of the surrounding neighborhood. Owned by Vantage Energy and directly adjacent to homes and ball fields, the blowout spilled flowback fluid that can contain hazardous chemicals, radioactivity and salts.
The blowout lasted over 24 hours. After several attempts to cap it, Vantage eventually was forced to call in a Houston team of blowout specialists. Initially, 13 homes were evacuated, but on Sunday morning that was widened to incorporate over 100 homes within one-eighth of a mile. Uncontrolled, the blowout risked an explosion like the one in Parker County which blew a 700’ crater.
“The Arlington blowout proves fracking literally threatens people in their own homes,” said Earthworks Texas Organizer Sharon Wilson. She continued, “CSHB40 would kill communities’ attempts to protect themselves and instead put the fox in charge of the hen house. Apparently everything IS bigger in Texas, including big government stomping all over democratic efforts to protect homes and families.”
CSHB40 and its Senate companion SB1165, written by former ExxonMobil lead attorney Shannon H. Ratliff, would require all municipal oil and gas ordinances to be “commercially reasonable” as defined by oil and gas companies. It is widely accepted that the legislation would invalidate Dallas’s recent setbacks, Denton’s fracking ban, and block most city ordinances that would prevent an oil and gas well from being drilled or fracked. HB40 is scheduled for a full House vote on Tuesday, April 14.
“Vantage’s blowout just forced over 100 Arlington families to evacuate their homes,” said Jane Lynn, an Arlington resident personally impacted by oil and gas development. She continued, “On the other side of town XTO's noisy operation keeps families awake at night over a half mile away. Now, just when Texas communities are starting to stand up for themselves, the State wants to block our ability to make our own decisions? Clearly, drilling and fracking are incompatible with residential neighborhoods. And clearly, the State doesn’t care.”
State regulators ignored citizen complaints about problems at the site months before Saturday’s blowout. A March Freedom of Information request revealed that the city and the operator knew of well casing problems in January at the same site.