Friday, July 22, 2011
We've been receiving copies of letters to Fort Worth council members from citizens with questions concerning seismic testing in their neighborhoods. We posted those letters here and here.
Here's a portion of another one we received this week.
I share many of the same concerns expressed by the neighborhoods who were recently invaded by the rumbling of seismic trucks. We live in the Wedgwood NA and had no prior notification let alone gave permission for the testing. My 3 year old son was terrified that the house was suddenly shaking and I was hard pressed to explain it to him when I didn't even know what was going on myself. I also noticed that the "police" escort with the convoy did not appear to be an officer, but a private vehicle labeled police complete with flashing reds and blues. It had no city markings or vehicle numbers. I wrote to Councilman Jungus Jordan, but over a week later have received no response. Our neighborhood is only about 10% leased so I have no idea why they are testing over here.
We saw a blurb in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently that quoted a council member somewhat skirting the issues.
After seismic testing on July 4 in some Fort Worth neighborhoods led to complaints from residents, officials said they will prohibit those tests on city holidays.
"There has been a lot of confusion, even e-mails suggesting the water main break in east Fort Worth [last week] was due to this," District 8 Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks said. "That's not the case, but we need to do more education."
Some residents have said that the city hasn't been monitoring seismic testing and that the companies may be getting information about what's below the properties of homeowners who haven't signed leases, then using it against them in lease negotiations.
City officials said that drilling companies have a right to do the testing and that it is done all over the country. To educate the public, city officials said, they plan to place more information on the city's website.
Then we received the follow up letter below to the Fort Worth City Attorney. If you live in Fort Worth, or know someone who does, YOU can't afford to miss it. Don't forget, YOU voted for these council members, oh wait, some of YOU didn't bother to vote at all....
Remember, if YOU want to keep YOUR rights, YOU have to stand up for them. YOUR politicians sure as hell aren't.
Dear Ms. Fullenwider-
You may have seen my message of two weeks ago to, Council Rep. Kathleen Hicks, seeking information about seismic testing or mapping being performed by Dawson Geophysical in Fort Worth. Because Ms. Hicks has not yet responded to my questions, I'm now asking you, the Fort Worth City Attorney, to please provide the information requested below.
Our key concerns are these:
> Unauthorized gathering of seismic data from un-leased properties
> Lack of warning from City or Dawson to perform baseline documentation of building foundations before they tested
> Possible damage to underground, public-owned infrastructure such as water, gas and sewer lines, fiber-optic cables, etc., short and long-term
> Potential harm to all life forms including people, pets, livestock and wildlife including, birds, pollinating insects and all subsurface animals
> Possible damage to public roadways, especially long-term
To help ease our concerns we request the following information from you:
1. Third-party documentation demonstrating it is safe to all life-forms, including, people, pets, wildlife and livestock.
2. Third-party documentation addressing impact to public roadways and utilities near and long-term.
3. Documentation showing that private pipeline, telephone, cable TV, electric companies, etc. have OK'd the testing without caveats.
4. Minutes from all FW Water, Sewer and Street Dept. meetings where seismic mapping was discussed and approved.
5. Documentation from the City identifying the responsible party in case of ANY damage at ANY time and explanation of how the City determines such responsibility
6. An explanation of public statement by Ms. Hicks that, "properties are protected from damage."
7. City plan for compensation in cases where damage occurs in the near and long term
8. Documentation that homeowners' insurance will not be impacted by seismic mapping
9. Copy of the bond or insurance document from Dawson Geophysical
10. List of comparable US cities where seismic mapping has taken place
The key words in our request are, "Third party, peer-reviewed documentation." Industry-supplied "education" documents are inherently, biased. If requested third-party studies have not been performed and observed to be safe over a long-term, then we strongly urge the City to halt seismic mapping immediately.
Why is this important? For one example: There were two recent water main breaks that came to my attention. Both are in areas where seismic mapping has occurred and may be linked to that activity. But the City seems to be confused or in denial about these events, unwilling to consider that possibility. Who knows how many other, similar events have occurred?
A recent Star-Telegram article quoted Ms. Hicks stating, unequivocally, that, "There has been a lot of confusion, even e-mails suggesting the water main break (last week near Sycamore Park) was due to this (seismic testing). That's not the case but we need to do more education."
However, her statement conflicts with an email I received from City of Fort Worth Water Director, Frank Crumb, who wrote, "The main break at Eastside Pump station last Thursday was most likely the result of the soil drying out and high pressures of summer pumping." Similarly, Water Dept. spokesperson, Mary Gugliuzza, when asked about same main break, told the Star-Telegram, "... the exact reason for this one? We don't know yet."
Neither statement from the Water Dept. is unequivocal yet, Ms. Hicks spoke with certainty. This sends a mixed message to the public who has growing concerns about this and other intrusions by the drilling industry. Apparently no one knows for certain if seismic mapping was a direct or secondary cause. One thing IS certain: Thumper trucks send out powerful vibrations underground.
Another water line break occurred in the Westcliff West neighborhood in May shortly after thumper trucks were in the area. In both cases, the public was temporarily deprived of water and taxpayers were billed for the breaks. It's important that we know with certainty what caused the breaks. The same is true of all impacted public and private infrastructure and the environment. Unbiased answers must come from independent sources with no ties to Dawson or the drilling industry.
Of equal concern is the unauthorized taking of data from un-leased property by Dawson who will sell the data to drilling companies. There are many un-leased property owners who are opposed to this and others who are simply unaware that Dawson will profit from their private property. This appears to be unethical if not illegal but the City did not divulge this fact to property owners.
Finally, we question if City staffers obtained their own information about seismic mapping from third-party, peer-reviewed sources or relied too heavily on the drilling industry for that info. Simply stating, as the City has done that, "drilling companies have a right to do the testing and that it is done all over the country", is not sufficient for our education. It sounds more like industry rhetoric. We need hard facts not reprints from industry pamphlets.
Our concerns are growing. My own research has turned up numerous real and potential impacts from seismic mapping, not to mention the legal and ethical concerns. These concerns cannot be resolved simply by prohibiting testing on city holidays, as the City has determined. By supplying the requested documents listed above those questions may be answered.
Sarah, we feel a responsibility to our families, friends and neighbors to know that this activity has been proven safe and that our property has not been used for private gain without consent. We can't abide by faith and industry promises, alone. As a Fort Worth resident and City Attorney, I'm sure you share our concerns.
Thanks for your prompt attention to this urgent matter.