Weatherford Democrat

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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

(Continued)

Water samples were taken from another homeowner who complained of possible contaminated water and have been sent for testing, according to Fernandez. Another homeowner told staff that they had sent the water to Texas A&M for testing for a similar complaint and that complaint is still open.

Commission staff have been unable to contact two others who complained at the town hall of issues, staff said.

Last week, the Texas Railroad Commission received a formal complaint from a homeowner regarding structural damage to their home. The complainant was told that the commission does not have jurisdiction over structural damage and that no one would be sent to inspect or open a formal complaint, according to Fernandez.

Those who complained of sinkholes at the meeting were asked to leave their contact information so that the Texas Railroad Commission could investigate.

“As you all know the commission’s jurisdiction extends to matters related to the production and conservation of oil and gas and protection of the environment,” Lindil Fowler, general counsel for the Texas Railroad Commission, said. “As it relates to disposal wells, the commission is specifically tasked with ensuring that the permitting and operating of injection wells is in the public interest by requiring that they not endanger or injure any oil, gas or other mineral formation and that they are operated in a manner that protecst fresh water from pollution. And that’s precise statutory language .... It’s clear from these statutory provisions and established case law that the commission lacks remedial jurisdiction over such things as damages to residential or commercial structures such as cracks in walls or bridges, structural damage to roads or bridges, and the diminution of property value or noise and air pollution-related matters.”

Those issues are largely matters that would fall under the jurisdictional domain of district courts, according to Fowler.

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