Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Canary of Wise County, Texas--Natural Gas Fracking Well Effects Cause One Family to Fly Away

The Wise County Messenger published a story in their Sunday Edition paper on September 26, 2010 that disputes Big Gas claims of the process being "clean and safe"--for this particular family it's hell on earth and their mounting health ailments have forced them to flee their home in order to save their own lives.

They're not alone in their plight because Big Gas' invasive and controversial methods affects communities all across America that are unlucky enough to be victims of Mother Nature's geography that draws the energy giants to destructively assail her and wrest the rich deposits of gas she holds deep in her arms. They aren't kind in their methods and more often than not they cause collateral damage that has grave consequences from their desire to have their way with the earth.

But they'll tell you "everything we do is regulated and completely harmless--the country needs this product and it brings good paying jobs to the local economy." That makes a few casualties and whole range of suffering a fair trade-off in these soulless bastards minds and we are convinced that is precisely what they are the more we listen to their propaganda and see the real effects of what they do.

From the story:
"I started to get a little sick," she said. "I thought I was getting the flu. I was just tired and achy and started going through some little problems. "

"Then I started breaking out in a rash. It literally covered my entire body - my scalp all the way down to the bottoms of my feet,"
Parr recalled. "I made multiple trips to the emergency room. I had six doctors working on me, and they couldn't figure out what it was."

Today, her arms and legs bear pock-like scars from rashes.

Lisa first felt sick in fall 2008. As the immense trees across her 40-acre homestead dropped pecans, Lisa accumulated a host of unexplained ailments. The typical remedies didn't work.

Lisa was treated by eight different doctors over the course of a year. A source of the sickness was never determined. In June 2009, after exhausting everything he knew medically, her internal specialist suggested that something in the environment might be causing her various ailments.

In early fall 2009, she visited an environmental doctor who confirmed the presence of neurotoxins in her blood that matched chemicals used in natural gas production.

Toxic plume

Medical tests confirmed the toxins in Lisa's system matched toxins found in the atmosphere in an air-quality investigation conducted by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) at a nearby gas well site.
On the evening of July 25, 2010, the Parrs smelled a strong odor emanating from a frac tank at a site operated by Aruba Petroleum of Plano. They reported it to TCEQ. Investigators arrived within hours to capture air samples.

Odors were detected up to a quarter-mile from the well site. The investigator, Damon Armstrong, reported that a "plume" wafting from the tank was "visible with the naked eye." The petroleum-like odor was so intense the investigator himself felt sick in the short time he was there, noting dizziness and sore throat.

The analysis found five compounds that exceeded safe values for short-term health effects, and another 20 exceeded safe levels for long-term effects.

The investigation found elevated levels of ethane, pentane, hexane, octane, xylene and nonane, all potentially toxic chemicals.

Four days later, a medical test discovered the same chemicals inside Lisa. 
Her husband and her 7-year-old daughter, Emma, felt sick as well.

"My daughter began having severe nosebleeds," she said. "She'd wake me up at 6 a.m., crying, covered in blood."

Emma was just diagnosed with asthma. She'd never had any respiratory problems. Emma also started breaking out in rashes and having stomach problems.

Bob also suffered from nosebleeds.

"I'm 50 years old and probably haven't had more than three or four nosebleeds in my entire lifetime," Bob said. "All of a sudden I'm getting them three times a week. It was odd."

"I hired someone to do water and air sampling at the home," she said. "The methane level in my daughter's room was at asphyxiation levels. And it was barely lower than what it was outside our home."

She showed the results to her doctor, who told her to leave her home within 48 hours.

"The doctor told me right then," she said, pausing as her voice cracked and a tear streamed across her left cheek, "I had to move immediately. Because if I did not, we would have to spend more time and money on hospitalization, on chemotherapy and morticians for my whole family."

On Saturday, Aug. 28, the Parrs said goodbye to their formerly idyllic home and moved into Bob's office in Denton. They don't know how long they'll have to stay.

"What we are going through is one of the worst things a family could have to go through," she said. "Having to leave this house and explain to my 7-year-old daughter that we've been run out of our house."

Bob and Lisa Parr aren't the sickly type. Bob built his home in 2001. He's enjoyed a long career in stone masonry and raising cattle. His home reflects the rugged, outdoor lifestyle he enjoys. Walls bear the trophies of big-game hunting in the wilds of Alaska. Black bear, mountain lions and elk are mounted on high wooden walls.

"We love it here," Lisa said while sitting in a wooden rocking chair on the back porch and gripping her husband's hand. "We're secluded, private. We just wanted to be left alone, and we've been run out of our house. It's not right. What's even more not right is we thought *TCEQ would come out and help us - they would clean up this mess."
*(The state regulatory and enforcement agency that compares notes on inefficiency with ADEM)

"We've had no help. We have someone who is contaminating our air. It has affected our cattle. We've lost pets. We've lost chickens. We're all sick, and we've gotten no help," she said. "I want them to fix it so we can come home. I just want to come home."
Several doctors had told Lisa for some time she needed to leave her home, but she couldn't convince herself to do it until the symptoms began affecting her husband and daughter.

"It had only been affecting me, so we stayed," Lisa said. "They thought I was super-sensitive. They called me the canary."

"I told them, 'That wasn't funny because eventually the canary died."
It's enough to make one wax nostalgic for the days of the Old West when disputes were settled in much more direct ways and men who caused harm to women and children realized swift justice from a society that gave a damn in more ways than we do today in the Lone Star State.

Commentary from Winger and the Texas team
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  1. I am reminded of the PACE picante sauce commercial "get a rope."
    I feel very sorry for this family, especially the little girl.
    But, it also really makes me hot under the saddle that this happens to unsuspecting communities who are simply trying to live their lives and enjoy a piece of the American dream.

  2. I'm with HC on this one. TCEQ is a miserable failure, always have been and they should be disbanded and replaced before they can do anymore damage to Texas.

  3. Got to love these feisty bloggers and the age of the Internet! I went to the BlueDaze blog, great work they are doing--they put up a post about little ol' us here in Bama.
    I am starting to see what you mean Max, our backyard is somebody else's backyard too and it is all connected. I didn't understand at first why the site moved out of the Alabama area on issues sometimes, but I got the memo on it now.
    Keep on kickin' butt and takin' names.


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