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Texas Family Tells Jury of Air Quality Poisoned by Local Natural Gas Drilling

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A Texas family told a Dallas jury on Tuesday that they are being sickened by natural gas wells near their property that are owned by Texas-based Aruba Petroleum, Inc.  A $9 million nuisance lawsuit filed against the company by the family is one of the first trials seeking to hold a company liable for medical problems allegedly linked to chemicals used in fracking.

The Parr family alleges that Aruba Petroleum exposed them to dangerous chemicals, gases, and industrial waste at some of the company’s 22 gas wells drilled near their 40-acre property in Wise County. They allege they’ve suffered numerous health problems, some of them so severe that they were unable to work and were forced to live in Bob Parr’s office instead of their home. The Parrs say their medical problems were caused by benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and other volatile organic compounds from the drilling sites, according to Law360.com.

In 2011, the Parrs sued Aruba and several other drilling companies operating in the Barnett shale, including Halliburton Co., Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. and Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Co. LP. Halliburton won summary judgment dismissal of claims against it in spring 2013 and the Parrs settled with the other drilling companies for a total of about $400,000, court documents obtained by Law360.com show.

The Parrs also allege in their lawsuit that Aruba’s drilling activity constitutes a trespass on their property and that the company’s gas wells have caused the property value to plunge, Law360.com reported.

In January, the family’s negligence claims against Aruba and Encana were dismissed, but the nuisance and trespass claims still stand. The clan was barred from collecting any damages for personal injury claims that would require expert testimony and for claims that the drilling companies “caused a disease that occurs genetically and for which a large percentage of the cases of the disease are unknown” by Dallas County Court Judge Mark Greenberg, according to Law360.com.

Aruba told jurors the Parrs can’t prove they were sickened by one of its company’s wells, since the gas it did drill was in an area with dozens and dozens of drilling rigs with heavy oil and gas activity. Attorneys for the company argued the family has no proof that Aruba’s gas drilling activities diminished the air quality in their home, Law360.com reported.

Air pollution caused by natural gas drilling is not at all unheard of. In August 2010, Wolf Eagle Environmental took air samples from the Texas town of Dish, which is also located in the Barnett region, and “confirmed the presence in high concentrations of carcinogenic and neurotoxin compounds in ambient air near and/or on residential properties.”

Results of air testing by the Texas Railroad Commission released the same month detected benzene concentration, 37 parts per billion (ppb), at a Devon Energy complex between the towns of Justin and Dish. The highest benzene reading overall, 95 ppb, was detected at a Stallion Oilfield Services commercial disposal well in Parker County. All six facilities revisited by state inspectors are within about 1,000 feet from people’s homes.

breakinglawsuitnews.com disclaimer: This article: Texas Family Tells Jury of Air Quality Poisoned by Local Natural Gas Drilling was posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2014 at 12:40 am at breakinglawsuitnews.com and is filed under Personal Injury Lawsuits, Toxic Substances Lawsuits.

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