• Wow. Mr. Federick and I have an invitation to TRRC in Austin to discuss his water contamination problem with Commissioner Jones and her Executive Director. I suppose she really does care. She was apologetic on behalf of TRRC for not treating this or filing this as a formal complaint; it just sort of fell through the cracks.

    Thank you TRRC Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones. I certainly didn't expect such personal involvement and Mr. Frederick and his family certainly do appreciate it.

    June 22, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.
  • Toby Frederick and I speak regularly, primarily about his water well situation because it is very disturbing.

    TRRC told him that his water was safe after he called them and representatives tested it onsite, so he let his family bathe and shower in it, do the laundry, cook with it for around four months until he was compelled to drill a new water well much shallower. This was only after he got his private laboratory results back showing that the water was not potable. He was hauling in water to bathe the grandbaby but still feeding the cattle with it in the troughs the whole time because he had no alternative.

    He got lucky and hit good water with his new shallower well, or was it luck? Most of the private water well owners in the area rely upon wells much shallower than 280 feet and haven't experienced this problem. Could the contamination be isolated to a deeper sand?

    This is what was tentativly identified in the water, most over EPA Maximum Contamination Levels:

    Benzene, 1-methyl-4-propyl
    Benzene, 2-ethyl 2,4-dimethyl
    Benzene, 1-ethyl-2,4-dimethyl
    Benzene, 1-ethyl-2,3-dimethyl
    Benzene, (2-methyl-1-butenyl)
    Naphthaline, 2-methyl

    Neither Toby nor I know the source of this contamination and it could be coming from several known sources, but it's pretty bad. To turn the water on burns the eyes, gives an immediate headache and can be smelled from over twenty feet away when the well is opened. He's going to see if it ignites soon, since we haven't tried that yet.

    The problem could be a residual effect from days gone bye. An abandoned gas well lies only 60 feet from the water well. A buried fuel storage tank near by could have ruptured many years ago. A dump nearby was closed down by TNRCC some years ago for illegal dumping. There are all sorts of possibilities.

    The point that Mr. Frederick would like to make is that he reported this problem and was shucked off and lied to by state agencies including TRRC and TECQ. Now, want to hear something ironic? He worked for a Texas State agency all of his adult life and recently retired.

    He's not saying that it was fracking that caused this contamination though it's a possibility. He's saying that the State government agency responsible for identifiying this problem has ignored his concerns. He's extremely upset but somehow contains himself, though he's already talking about taking a jug to the Governor for him to sniff. I bet he could get in the door, too.

    Hmm. I guess that's just how we are around here.

    June 15, 2011 at 9:16 a.m.
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    June 14, 2011 at 8:17 p.m.
  • Peace of Mind. That is gone when shale gas drilling comes to your community, town or your neighborhood. Reading comments here that make "excuses" for serious problems is very disheartening after so many of us have been studying and learning about it for so many months and years.

    Basically, if we go with the IDEA that the problems are simply rare and not BIG enough to warrant long-term study (as the O&G Industry will be happy to promote)...then we are allowing ourselves to become a huge sacrifice zone in a very short time.

    Some call those of us who have real concerns, "radical." I look at it differently. I call those who bring shale gas drilling to our communities "radical." And "irresponsible." Even "criminal." If they thought it was so wonderful, they wouldn't work so hard to keep us from knowing what's going on.

    What other business comes to town and immediately hands out checks to the homeowners and city/town officials under the guise of being "good neighbors"? They romanticize the whole notion of being a "mineral owner." They tell us we're being "patriotic" by participating with them. They tell us we'll get a nice check in the mail for doing absolutely nothing...we'll never even notice the drilling and fracking. They tell us all our friends and neighbors have already signed. They tell us whatever it takes to get our signature. They never mention details of the "process" because they tell us that's too complicated and boring. Until you've been there, you don't know any of this. And they know that, too.

    We may not all be geologists or petroleum engineers. But some of us are. And there are plenty of us who have a lot of education and the ability to read and research this issue. Shale gas drilling could very well end up being one of the most egregious injustices ever handed out to Middle Class America...with full approval.

    June 13, 2011 at 1:55 p.m.
  • Yes, but the contamination is extreme and Railroad Commission dropped him like a hot potato.

    Benzene has apparently been used historically for all sorts of things in the petroleum industry, from washing down drilling rigs to mixing frac water, so who knows?

    Railroad Commission needs to "re-evaluate" this situation, and very quickly in my opinion. I'm sure the reporters would be just as happy to announce that this contamination did NOT occur from hydrofracking. Wouldn't that be nice?

    June 12, 2011 at 9:48 p.m.
  • MK, I'm talking about photoj's link about a gas production company admiting they contaminated some wells by sending wastewater to a municipal treatment plant. I haven't a clue what contaminated Mr. Frederick's well - maybe it had nothing to do with gas wells.

    It could be cause by a gasoline spill from a neighbor or whatever. There are probably many water wells around there and there is absolutely no oversite on their construction or operation.

    If I read your comments correctly there is no problem with his new water well - that indicates the contamination is pretty local.

    June 12, 2011 at 9:40 p.m.
  • Wastewater from what? The 60-year-old abandoned gas well 60 feet away? Surface contamination at a waste disposal site closed down by TNRCC over a decade ago for illegal dumping? The two frac wells that apparently blew the casing out about five years ago? The mud pit that lost integrity during a heavy rain and came gushing down a nearby creek? The compressor station just across the road?

    Which one? That is the question, or a question. The other one is why did Railroad Commission blow this person off like they did? If anything is worth investigating, you would think this would be.

    It's not as simple as your assumption, I promise you. The point is that somebody better get it figured out and fast, because if it's not due to hydrofracturing, then the public needs to know this as well. Railroad Commission threw this guy under a bus, and I'd be upset too.

    June 12, 2011 at 9:29 p.m.
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    June 12, 2011 at 9:19 p.m.
  • The water contamination did not result from fracking directly. It occurred because drilling wastewater on the surface was not properly treated and disposed of. This is a problem that can be easily fixed - so everyone put down the torches and pitchforks.

    June 12, 2011 at 9:04 p.m.
  • Industry admits water contamination...

    June 12, 2011 at 8:06 p.m.
  • EyesOfTx,

    Could you possibly help this man? He asked me to give you his number for a reason, because you have knowledge.

    If I were in the industry, I would want to alleviate any suspicions regarding my procedure as quickly as possible. Simple words like "impossible" won't get it, either. He deserves a solid explanation.

    June 12, 2011 at 5:55 p.m.
  • His water went south last August, and he used it in the house for four months before drilling a new well.

    There is an abandoned gas well, as I mentioned before, about 60 feet from the contaminated well. The water well in question supplied the gas well. That's why it's 280 feet deep. It's been producing absolutely beautiful water for over 60 years.

    The gas well was capped around 1960. Was benzene (solvent) dumped down that hole before they capped it? This is also a possibility, that the casing finally eroded and became perforated and same for the water well casing (steel).

    So, what's the answer? Who done it? This is a very complex issue with several potential outcomes.

    June 12, 2011 at 5:28 p.m.
  • OK, first of all diesel fuel never entered into the picture. Diesel fuel may contain benzene and his water may smell like (worse than) diesel, but diesel was never considered. Is it possible? Yes, but this needs to be found out.

    As far as the RRC map, try researching a couple of wells that DID blow casing about five years ago, up at the end of Zengerle Road. Again, this isn't necessarily the suspected cause of the problem, but something caused it and this needs to be investigated. This would be adjacent to a gravel pit there.

    Now, surface spills...have you ever seen a mud pit dam break after a heavy rain containing regurgitated fluids flowing straight into the Guadalupe River? This man has. Ask him.

    June 12, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.
  • It is obvious that EyesofTX works directly or indirectly for the TRRC-- right off the bat offering the San Antonio phone number for them and doing nothing but trying to negate anything that anyone else is trying to say here. You might think you're fooling everyone, but you are not a concerned community member of this area. If you were, you would have been at the meeting yesterday. Your posted first comment on here approximately 30 minutes after this story was linked to the TRRC. Coincidence? I think not.

    June 12, 2011 at 5:03 p.m.
  • The mapping feature on the RRC website is a useful tool. It will show old and new wells, and pipelines in a location of your choice. I think we are talking about two different issues here. Eagle Ford and the bad water these people have. Of course it might be the intent of some people to confuse the issue.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:54 p.m.
  • Diesel fuel is a product of crude oil, after cracking in a refinery, same for heating fuel, gasoline and yes even benzene. If diesel fuel was found in a water well it did not get there by any means other than a above ground spill.

    If diesel fuel can occur because of fracking the refinery s might as well go out of business now. Straight from the ground into trucks, ect.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:54 p.m.
  • EyesOfTexas,

    Thank you for that information. However, Mr. Frederick called TRRC. They came out and tested his water on site and told him there is nothing wrong with it. They would not drink it.

    So, I told Mr. Frederick to have his water tested on a private basis. He did. He was told that these particular compounds of benzene are extremely unusual and outside the normal parameters of volatile organics testing.

    He sent the test results to TRRC, who sent it to toxicology, who responded by telling him that "these levels of benzene are not toxic". I find that odd, because 7 out of 8 were over 5ppb, EPA's MCL.

    So, where does that leave this man and his family? Kevin at B-Environmental told him to discontinue use of this water for any purpose. He has a ranch, cattle, and we're in a drought.

    He is frustrated to say the least. He is not bashing hydrofracking and neither am I. He is not bashing any company. He just wants to know where this is coming from so that his new shallower well doesn't experience the same contamination. That's all.

    I recommended to him that since both TRRC and TCEQ have ignored him, he should go federal and contact EPA.

    I mean, wouldn't you be concerned? This water burns your eyes and gives you a headache and makes you nauseous.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:54 p.m.
  • truggiero: that's a very good tactic, lumping spills, accidents and blowouts together as if they are somehow the same thing, and as if they are all related to casing failures that can possibly lead to natural gas getting into a drinking water resource, which is what we were talking about.

    Casing failures are extremely rare. Blowouts are a little less rare. "Spills" are less rare than that. As for your undefined "accidents", there is no way to know what you're talking about.

    Of course, you fail to mention the fact that virtually all spills are quickly contained and remediated by response crews before any significant harm takes place. Same with blowouts. You also fail to recognize that, for an operator, having a blowout is the same as throwing away money, so we take all manner of precautions and safety processes to ensure they don't happen.

    But then, for scaremongers, recognizing the reality of such situations serves no real purpose. So carry on.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:49 p.m.
  • Whoa guys!

    Man, don't let this get personal. EyesOfTexas is obviously very intelligent, but perhaps also one-sided 100% and perhaps paid either directly or indirectly by the industry. Nobody in the general public has that kind of knowledge without some sort of interest. Attacks on the extremists don't get anywhere with me either.

    I have one question and one question only:


    Watch the 25 News. Maybe this evening or maybe tomorrow, but Maristha was pissed when she smelled that water. I am too, and it's not even my water!

    June 12, 2011 at 4:45 p.m.
  • Mark, no idea what "hill" you're referring to. As for your question, the Texas Railroad Commission would be the responsible agency. If you haven't already tried, I suggest you call the San Antonio District office at 210-227-1313.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:41 p.m.
  • If you think accidents, blowouts and spills are 'rare', take a look at the TRRC website under Data & Statistics. Pages and pages of them. And these are just the ones that were reported.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:40 p.m.
  • Wow, who died and left EyesofTX the god of all things related to fracking and science? I guess we should just all bow down to him/her. NOT! Eyes, go blather on your REAL website: it's called the Texas Railroad Commission. You are the person spreading lies and disinformation. Everyone else with a differing opinion is wrong, or foolish, or using bad analogies. It must be awful "tiresome" being the one who is "right" all the time about everything. That's the problem with stupidity... it has no limits and you are living proof.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:33 p.m.
  • Solid rock? What about gravel? How quickly can fluids move through gravel? There is nothing but gravel and caliche up on that hill.

    The question is being avoided or unanswered. Who is responsible for identifying the source of the problem???????????????

    June 12, 2011 at 4:29 p.m.
  • sergeant jigglier: Where Eagle Ford wells are concerned, yes. Positive. If you understood the geology involved, you would be as well. It simply isn't possible.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:27 p.m.
  • Eyes,

    Are you 100% positive nothing leaks between surface and intended location?

    That is a Disney fairy tale if you believe that.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:20 p.m.
  • Jack Deuce: Bad Analogy.

    In the instance you cite, gasoline tanks related to filling stations are within 15 feet of the surface, and the benzene in that instance would have been leaching horizontally through soft soil.

    By contrast, Eagle Ford wells range in depth from 7500 feet to 12,000 feet, more than 2 miles below the surface. Any honest geologist will assure you that the thought that frac fluids injected more than a mile below the surface can somehow leech back up, through thousands of feet of solid rock, to contaminate a water table a few hundred feet below the surface is a Walt Disneyesque fairy tale. It is simply not possible. Period.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:16 p.m.
  • photoj7 unfortunately appears to be just another fear-monger, intent on purveying disinformation. No doubt an ally of Ms. Wilson and Mr. Tillman. Very tiresome.

    You would have to search long and hard to find any frac job that uses more than 2% chemical content, much less 10% as you claim. Not even the professional liars at OGAP make such absurd claims.

    Diesel, which contains benzene, was used fairly regularly as a lubricant in frac jobs years ago, but that practice has dissipated over time, and it is doubtful any Eagle Ford frac jobs use diesel. Most EF frac jobs use non-petroleum based lubricants instead, such as vegetable oil.

    No one would ever claim that casing can "never" fail - there is always a chance for accidents in any industrial process. When such accidents happen - which is extremely rare, btw - the industry and regulators have all sorts of rapid response procedures to make sure any damage is contained very quickly. The problem with folks like Ms. wilson and Mr. Tillman is that they run all over the country claiming these kinds of things happen all the time, and that is simply an out and out lie.

    As legion357 says, if Mr. Frederick's water has benzene in it - and I have no reason to doubt his claim - then it is far more likely to be the result of some sort of surface spill than anything to do with the drilling or fracking of an Eagle Ford well.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:07 p.m.
  • Since the composition of fracking fluids now has to be disclosed in the state of Texas, I guess we will all know next September.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:02 p.m.
  • 1,000,000 gallons of water times .5 percent equals 5,000 gallons of something other than water or sand going down the hole. That's per million gallons of water.

    Is napthalene added to gasoline or diesel fuel also to reduce knocking?

    We just left Mr. Frederick's water well an hour ago. The fumes could be detected from 20 feet away when he opened the well. It was nauseating and gave me an immediate headache. We all had to walk away immediately.

    Even if it was an old well that is causing this problem, who is responsible for identifying the source of the benzene and other contaminants? He certainly didn't pour it down the hole himself!

    June 12, 2011 at 4:01 p.m.
  • The sand/water to chemical ratio is more like 90/10. So when you are talking about millions of gallons, there are A LOT of chemicals going into the ground of which only a small percentage are recovered. No one knows the long term effects of these chemicals being there, nor does anyone know for 100% certainty that they cannot migrate into water supplies. If you think it can't happen, then you need to talk to all the people it HAS happened to. Some have been paid to keep quiet, but there are others who have refused to be bullied by the industry. The people who are pointing out the problems have NOTHING to gain personally. The industry that LIES about the dangers has EVERYTHING to gain.

    June 12, 2011 at 3:45 p.m.
  • 99.5% of the material used to fracture the shale consist of water and sand.
    As for the lady in Thomaston with the bad water, has there been shale drilling in this part of De Witt county? I know there are old wells in that area.

    June 12, 2011 at 3:34 p.m.
  • OK, so lets say a casing blows under pressure while hydrofracking. Has this ever happened? Yes, it has. Cheap Chinese steel. Is it possible that hydrofrack fluids can or will escape into the groundwater? Is it possible???

    June 12, 2011 at 3:24 p.m.
  • So, the source is still unknown. Railroad Commission declined to investigate. TCEQ didn't even show up. What caused the benzene to enter the well and who is responsible for finding this out?

    Incidentally, benzene is usually the first "additive" that is disclosed voluntarily by some companies in the manufacture of slick water. "Gasland" may have been slanted a bit but facts are facts, and this is one of them.

    June 12, 2011 at 3:12 p.m.
  • There was NO SURFACE SPILL. I suggest you review the EPA's list of known fracking chemicals, of which benzene is listed as a component.

    June 12, 2011 at 3:10 p.m.
  • Nope, benzene is added to gasoline to reduce knocking since lead cannot be used anymore, benzene is also used in the production of styrofoam, nylon and plastics.

    If the mans well is contaminated with diesel fuel, which contains benzene, chances are it is a result of surface contamination, a surface spill, and not because of fracking.

    June 12, 2011 at 3:06 p.m.
  • Natural gas itself does not contain benzene, but benzene is one of the many, many chemicals used to frack the well. Neither benzene nor diesel fuel is naturally occurring underground. It had to come from somewhere, and if they are fracking next door using these substances, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to draw a pretty sound conclusion about how it ended up in a previously clean water source.

    June 12, 2011 at 2:45 p.m.
  • Unfortunately, Mark, what you've posted is simply not correct. Not only can scientists and regulators now prove whether or not a water resource has been contaminated by natural gas, they can in fact prove conclusively which formation the natural gas came from. This was recently demonstrated conclusively in the Range Resources case in the Barnett Shale area, where the EPA - and the erstwhile Ms. Wilson - accused Range of causing a well leak that spoiled a water resource. An independent study proved conclusively that the natural gas in question did not in fact come from the Range well, but from a much older well that had been drilled into a completely different formation by a different operator.

    Of course, the EPA has steadfastly refused to admit its error, despite the irrefutable scientific proof in the case. Range has spent more than $22 million - money that would have otherwise gone into producing more jobs and economic benefit to Texans - defending itself in this case. If Ms. Wilson and Mr. Tillman had their way, the EPA would usurp regulatory authority from state regulators and cause similar waste of resources and destruction of jobs and economic impact all over Texas and the rest of the country.

    By the way, if Mr. Frederick's water is indeed full of benzene, then it definitely was not despoiled by natural gas. Natural gas, you see, does not contain benzene.

    June 12, 2011 at 1:56 p.m.
  • We have published many stories on Eagle Ford. This meeting was organized to present concerns, so the story focused on those. Reporter Dianna Wray also is working on a six-part series on the subject. If you'd like to be quoted in this project or have issues to share, please contact her at

    Here are just a few of the many previous stories on the subject:



    June 12, 2011 at 10:49 a.m.
  • No one would disagree that this oil boom will benefit many, many people. No one would disagree that oil and natural gas is necessary. That's not the question.

    The question is responsibility when something goes wrong. Did you happen to smell Mr. Frederick's water? It's full of benzene and smells like a leaky PowerStroke. Granted, this is an unusual and rare situation, but it happened. Who is responsible for his water contamination??? TCEQ didn't even show up as they promised. Railroad Commission told him that his water is fine. Kevin at B-Environmental told him differently, that benzene is toxic and he should not use that water at all for any purpose.

    The drilling and fracking can be done properly and is evidenced by thousands of successes without incident. The science is there. The technology is there. Now it's up to the operators.

    Anyone who drinks from a water well should have the water tested for their own safety but also to have a baseline just in case something negative happens. "Not one single case of water contamination has been documented", they say. Why? Because after it happens, it's too late. It can't be proven unless a "document" can be provided showing that something changed regarding water quality.

    June 12, 2011 at 10:27 a.m.
  • Eyes. You're suprised? After the freak marriage headline of a couple of weeks ago, you expect questions to be raised? Like reporting? Foolish.

    June 12, 2011 at 10:07 a.m.
  • What a shame the Advocate publishes the remarks of known crackpots like Calvin Tillman and Sharon Wilson without any form of critical examination. Did you bother to ask Mr. Tillman how he has financed the extremely expensive world anti-natural gas tour he has been on for the last 3 years? What source of income he has that financed his expensive new home?

    Did you ask Ms. Wilson to substantiate a single one of the wild, demonstrably false claims she makes against the Texas natural gas industry on a daily basis?

    Here are some facts about the Eagle Ford resource:

    1. It is in the process of creating the single largest economic boom South Texas has EVER seen. Nothing else in the past even comes close to the massive economic impact this resource will produce for this area in the coming decades. Mr. Tillman and Ms. Wilson seek to deny this boom to the people of South Texas. That's the truth.

    2. The Eagle Ford will ultimately become one of the 3 largest oil fields and one of the 3 largest natural gas fields EVER discovered in Texas.

    3. Because local taxing districts are allowed to tax oil and gas reserves as they are proven up, the Eagle Ford will ultimately produce massive increases in tax collections for schools, counties, community college and hospital districts throughout the region. This resource - which Tillman and Wilson seek to deny us - will ultimately create tens of thousands of good, well-paying jobs for the people of South Texas, along with hundreds of billions of dollars in increased economic activity.

    4. Despite the wild, unsubstantiated claims made by these noted crackpots, hydraulic fracturing is one of the safest, most heavily regulated industrial processes on the face of the earth.

    It's a real shame the Advocate's reporter failed to ask a single critical question of these fear mongers when they showed up in Cuero last night. Hopefully, you will be better prepared next time they come to the area. Your readers and the people of South Texas deserve it.

    June 12, 2011 at 9:20 a.m.