With EagleRidge in the headlines again, I took a minute to follow-up with the Texas Railroad Commission and the final report on the April 19 blow-out that the commission staff said would be released sometime in September.
Commission spokeswoman Ramona Nye said that when the final soil samples came back clean, the commission decided to take no additional action against EagleRidge. The report is below.
A local environmental firm, KJ Environmental, took the soil samples as crews cleaned up the area around the well head. At the time clean-up began, a commission inspector noted that the damaged area was to the southeast of the wellhead, and included damage to tree foliage and native grasses.
“Can see salt crystals on foliage,” the inspector wrote.
Similar problems with chlorides showed up in soil samples near the wellhead. Sampling for BTEX chemicals did not show levels of concern. But the salt-soaked soil still had to be hauled away and replaced.
After about a 90-minute closed session, the Denton City Council moved quickly Tuesday afternoon to clarify the city’s new gas drilling ordinance to specify the sequencing of its permitting requirements.
From now on, operators must start their permits with the gas well inspection division. The move came after the city had to step back from a lawsuit it filed against EagleRidge Energy about two weeks ago. When the city sought a temporary injunction, the judge denied it, in part because EagleRidge produced a permit it received from the fire department.
Fire Marshal Laura Behrens told the council that the fire department inspects a property before it issues a permit to make sure that it meets the requirements of the current fire code.
Council member Dalton Gregory told the rest of the council that it made sense to him that a project would have to be platted before a fire inspection could occur. Council member Kevin Roden said he didn’t consider the move a change to the city’s ordinance, since he believed it clarified what the council had intended all along.
City Attorney Anita Burgess also said the city did not consider the move to be substantial change to the ordinance, but a clarification of the sequencing required.
UPDATE: Here’s the substituted ordinance. The language was changed from the original draft in the council’s agenda packet. SubstitutedOrdinance
Those closely following the city’s legal battle with EagleRidge Energy will note that Tuesday’s City Council meeting shows the fire code will be amended. At issue seems to be the “operating” permits currently issued by the fire department to show compliance with the international fire code. It looks like the city will be moving that authority over to the gas well inspections division.
I got a copy of the fire department permit that was issued to EagleRidge prior to the beginning of operations on Bonnie Brae St. Here it is: Eagleridge Fire Dept Permit
Although no one has said this to me on the record, it’s a good guess that this may be what caused the city to retreat earlier this week.
I have a full story coming in this Sunday’s paper.
The City Council just approved a resolution authorizing the staff to spray in areas where human cases of West Nile virus are found. The move came this afternoon, after a second human case of the disease was reported in a neighborhood just east of Wiggly Field, near Teasley Lane and Hickory Creek Road. A city crew is expected to spray the area overnight in the next few days.
We received copies of court documents related to the city’s lawsuit against EagleRidge Operating. The city is claiming that the company is violating city rules with its drilling of new wells at Bonnie Brae Street and Vintage Road. We’re working on the story. Eagleridge Energy
The Denton County Health Department alerted the city of Denton today that a second person living within the city limits has been diagnosed with West Nile virus. The city raised its public health alert to Risk Level 5 and announced a special call meeting of the Denton City Council to consider whether to order ground spray in the affected area.
The council will meet Tuesday at 1 p.m.
The first human case was diagnosed earlier this summer, but no positive mosquito pools showed up in the city until this month.
More information can be found on the city website, www.cityofdenton.com
Environment Texas has examined the state’s most populous cities for their efforts to encourage energy and water conservation and released its analysis here: Texas Torchbearers
Because Denton isn’t among the most populous cities, it wasn’t included in the study, which looked at a number of factors that can increase a city’s sustainability. Those include building codes, utility-supported solar power, city-purchased renewable energy, the number of electric re-charge stations and green-certified municipal buildings.
The group is recommending that Texas cities adopt the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code. Denton has adopted portions of the 2009 code, which is the state’s minimum. Twenty-six Texas cities have adopted, or will soon adopt, the 2012 code, according to the report.
The list is interesting. While it includes cities like Austin and Round Rock and San Antonio suburbs, which might be top-of-mind for sustainable Texas cities, there are many others that aren’t quite so top-of-mind, such as Denison, Gatesville, Hereford, La Porte, Port Arthur and Mission, that have adopted the 2012 code.