Home video, personal story of Friday’s gas leak

UPDATE: The city has identified the well site with a press release this morning, as the Smith Yorlum #7. A blog post by TexasSharon links to the latest permits with the Texas Railroad Commission, which shows Star of Texas was the original operator of the well. 

Pam Brewer, one of the residents near the Bradford Eagleridge well site along Jim Christal Road in western Denton on Friday, disputes the report that the “emissions event” began at 8 a.m.

Brewer says the noise woke her up about 3 a.m. At about 6:30 a.m., when there was enough light for her to get some video, as she got ready for work, she shot this:

Apr 19, 2013 (1)

“Unbeknownst to me, this was not supposed to be happening,” Brewer said.

She said she was even more upset when she left for work and drove by the crew, sitting in their pickups. They had left the pad site and were watching the geyser of gas and fluids from a safe distance. She had left her daughter and newborn grandchild behind, only to learn later that the fire department came, banging on the door and telling them to leave.

“They told her not to turn on the lights or anything, just grab her purse and go,” Brewer said. “My daughter was so upset that she forgot to buckle the baby’s carrier into the cart seat.”

Her husband tried to go back home, but the fire department wouldn’t let him pass, Brewer said. Instead, he stayed there with the fire department all day.

She said she didn’t know enough about drilling and production processes to understand what she saw at the pad site in the days and weeks before the failure to be specific. But, it had been busy for weeks with bright lights and rigs going in and out.

“Sometimes it would be a city of trailers and then the people would all leave, and then later they would all come back,” Brewer said. “There was always a lot of activity.”

In other words, activity that sounds consistent with a new frack job. The well site was originally permitted in 2003 with another operator, Wolsey Well Service. Eagleridge Operating is the newest operator at the site, and city records show it submitted a new permit for that site in 2010.

During Denton’s years-long battle to update its ordinance governing natural gas drilling and production in the city limits, Eagleridge claimed vested rights on its permits, which we reported last year. (Here’s the last from that chain of stories.)

I recently made an open records request seeking information on whether any other operators might try to do the same — pursue their currents interests in wells or permits under the old rules — and found that Devon Energy also rattled those “vested rights” chains with the city.

Inside the city limits, Eagleridge Operating has 54 wells, and Devon has 69 wells, according to the city’s database.

Outside the city limits in the extra-territorial jurisdiction, where the new ordinance has some teeth but not as much as inside the city, Eagleridge has 8 wells and Devon has 90.

Brewer said she finds the permitting and setback process maddening, given how much trouble the city gave her family when they first moved to the neighborhood, which is zoned industrial, and wanted to build a pig barn so that her daughter could raise and show hogs for FFA.

“They told me I couldn’t have animals within 1,000 feet of houses,” Brewer said. “But now there’s a rig within 1,000 feet of houses out here.”

Furthermore, her neighbor leased land for the gas pipeline that runs close to her house and, she said, “nobody asked me how I felt about it.”

Now that she knows what happened Friday wasn’t normal, she isn’t going to wait to call the fire department, she said.



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