They drank it until an oil company sent them a letter.
That letter informed Terrance, 42, and
Recalling their water first appearing black when re-installing toilets and
Tests done later confirmed their water was unsafe to drink, but Frostwood denies responsibility for this.
“We are sorry if
Frostwood has asked the Worthams not to protest an amendment to its permit with the
The amendment would give Frostwood a pass to violate a rule related to how many feet there must be between a well and someone else’s property line.
So far, the family hasn’t acquiesced, choosing instead to join their neighbors to protest Frostwood in
“We have three kids that stay here,”
But people who have made the same choice as the Worthams have found it was futile.
About 10 years ago, the Bhandari family protested
“The land man actually said to my husband, ‘Look, you’re not going to make any money signing this deal, but I think you should sign. We’ll give you enough money so you can go to Walmart and buy a big screen TV,'”
Not needing a TV and concerned about their changing North Arlington neighborhood, they took off work and went to
“How difficult is it for people like us? It’s really difficult,” said Bhandari, a former economics professor, “and I was in a better position than most because I had a little bit of a math background and had tried really hard to keep them away. Our house was right at the end of the lateral, so we weren’t stopping any of our neighbors from getting their minerals drilled, but even in that scenario, the whole process was predetermined.”
And the numbers seem to bear this out even today.
Records show that of the 28 times Frostwood has asked for an exemption to the spacing rule, it was given an exemption every time except once.
In what the
Bhandari said if she could recommend anything to others protesting, it would be to hire a lawyer, which she knows is not feasible for everyone. It wasn’t for her and her husband.
“In the southern part of the county in and around
He said the best way to make one’s case would be to have a test that showed what the water’s condition was like before the oil exploration.
The Worthams do not have that. Their water well was drilled about 10 years ago, so any documents associated with it are long gone.
Heiger-Bernays said the type of test performed isn’t one that would prove the Worthams well was contaminated by oil exploration so she “was concerned, but not convinced,” that that was what had occurred.
She said the Worthams shouldn’t drink the water because it had high levels of lead and arsenic. Lead is harmful to everyone, but can especially affect children’s cognitive abilities. Arsenic is a carcinogen.
She noted manganese was also not tested. The presence of manganese could explain the discoloration of the water and it is neurotoxin.
“Because if the question is, ‘Should I drink this?’ You really want to know what’s coming out of the tap,” Heiger-Bernays said.
“If the well water and tap water analyses come back with very different results, that means there is something happening in the pipes,” he said.
Nicot also offered another possible explanation for the Worthams’ degraded water quality: Hurricane Harvey.
Overall, he said, some have hypothesized the vibrations caused by drilling for oil can move tiny particles in the aquifer, but this hypothesis has never been fully tested.
When asked why, Nicot said, “It would be the same mechanism that would dirty your tap water if the water main in the next street is being worked on. Because it doesn’t happen systematically, researchers would have to guess where it could happen and then it might not, which would be a waste of time and money.”
Jones, Frostwood’s attorney, continued that the oil well couldn’t have contaminated the Worthams’ water because there are thousands of feet of sealing rock between the bottom and any water he uses. He said drilling too close was unintentional as an old map from a prior operator showed Frostwood was complying with the rules.
While Wortham, a long-haul truck driver, wonders whether it’s time to fill up a 5,000 gallon water tank and drive it out to his home on
Frostwood alone has 56 wells in
“Frostwood is very definitely revitalizing old oilfields by using the latest industry technology, and without having to use fracking,” Jones said. “Many of these fields have significant resources that could not be recovered using old methods, and that will now be produced using new methods. The whole effort is having a significant and positive economic impact on the area.”
But the Worthams don’t know if it’s worth it.
“I love it out here. This is my favorite place to be,” said
“They are throwing them up like it’s Dairy Queen,” his wife added.
Did You Know?
Landowners and citizens who are concerned their groundwater was contaminated by oil and gas activity should contact the
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