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January 21, 2014

Reno mayor: ‘Shut these wells down’

Azle-area residents go to Austin, ask Railroad Commission to shut down injection wells pending study

By CHRISTIN COYNE

A busload of Azle area residents who traveled to Austin early Tuesday morning begged regulators to shut down area injection wells that they believe may be triggering dozens of recent small earthquakes in the area.

Texas Railroad Commission staff provided the audience with more information than was given a frustrated crowd during recent town hall meeting in Azle Jan. 2.

However, statements from the commission’s attorney and Chairman Barry Smitherman indicate the TRC may lack the authority under state law to address many residents’ concerns of area structural damage.

Nearly all of the dozens who spoke to the commission requested a moratorium on injections until experts could study the issue.

“While you are doing your studies, I would like to ask you to shut these wells down and not make us, the citizens of Azle and Reno, the guinea pigs for the study,” Reno Mayor Lynda Stokes said, expressing a belief that injection wells are causing the earthquakes and saying it “isn’t rocket science.”

“Our houses are not built to earthquake specs,” Stokes said. “We have no earthquake insurance. We are the ones who suffer the damage. So, please, please shut these down. For once make people more important than an industry.”

“We need to stop it now before we have a catastrophe,” said Robert Hobbs, who said he has a dam and spillway on either side of his house on the south end of Eagle Mountain Lake. “There are a lot of people around the lake who have suffered damage to their homes, damage to their business. Right now we need to look at this in a serious manner and put a stop to it.”

Darla Hobbs expressed concern that the earthquakes, which many residents have said cracked walls and driveways, could also crack casings of area wells, causing water contamination.

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