NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
ALERT: KERA News 90.1 is performing essential tower maintenance which may disrupt our over-the-air signal between July 12-14. Click here for the KERA News stream, or listen on our app or smart speakers with no disruption. Thanks for your patience!

Vote Could Allow More Disposal Wells in Fort Worth

Right now Fort Worth bans new deepwater wells used to dispose of contaminated water from gas drilling.  But Tuesday night the city council could lift the moratorium and allow more wells within the city limits. 

The deepwater wells dispose of saltwater and chemicals from gas drilling by injecting them two miles underground.

Right now there are two deepwater injection wells operating within Fort Worth.  Additional wells are banned by a moratorium the city council passed in 2006.  But that moratorium will expire April 30, and the city council is deciding what to do after that.

Willis:  This is industrial infrastructure in an urban setting.  How appropriate is that?

Libby Willis is president of the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods and a member of the city task force advising the council on the next step. Willis says the League of Neighborhoods wants the council to make the citywide ban on disposal wells permanent.

Willis: There are chemical elements in this wastewater there are toxic elements, carcinogenic elements like benzene.  We have real questions about allowing that kind of wastewater with those contents in pipelines in our city much less going to disposal wells.   Also there’s a growing issue….is the link between disposal wells and seismic events, earthquakes.

But many in the drilling industry want a blanket moratorium replaced with a permitting process that considers each injection well individually.

Lindsey:  Right now you have a proliferation of disposal facilities that have been pushed off to the edge of the city. 

Stephen Lindsey of Quicksilver Resources says if deepwater wells are allowed within Fort Worth, the city can impose regulations that would be stronger than those applied just outside the city limits. 

Lindsey:  As the city continues to expand, at some point those are going to come within the city limits.  This is an opportunity for the city to take control of future wells and potentially impose on them a bit higher standard.

Lindsey also serves on the advisory committee and argues traffic from trucks transporting the contaminated water will be reduced if the wells are located within the city. 

Willis says there’s a better solution the road destruction caused by trucks.

Willis:  If this truck traffic is a real problem, industry needs to pay for the infrastructure it’s using.  

Willis says her group may be willing to accept one deepwater well Quicksilver wants to build in an industrial area just North of Alliance Airport.  It would be used to dispose of fracking water produced on Alliance property.

Willis says the League of Neighborhoods is telling council members there are still too many safety concerns to allow more new wells.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.