Chemicals from fracking contaminated a family’s water well so much that they sparked a flash explosion that severely injured at least four people, a lawsuit filed in Texas alleges.
“The explosion caused severe and extensive burns to Cody Murray, leaving the thirty-eight-year-old husband and father permanently disfigured and disabled,” the plaintiff’s complaint in the case states. “The explosion of the contaminated water well also caused serious burn injuries to his father, wife, and four-year-old daughter.”
Murray and his attorneys are alleging that two companies, EOG Resources Inc. and Fairway Resources, caused the explosion by contaminating his family’s water supply with flammable methane gas while fracking near their Jack County, Texas, ranch. The gas ignited an explosion in a pump house, the suit says.
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“Rigorous scientific testing, including isotope testing, has conclusively demonstrated that the high-level methane contamination of the Murrays’ water well resulted from natural gas drilling and extraction activities,” the suit filed in Texas District Court for Dallas County on Aug. 6 states. “The activities of Fairway and EOG are the only possible sources of the contamination.”
Pump House Inferno
The Murray family’s nightmare began when Cody’s wife, Ashley Murray, was filling a cattle trough with water on August 2, 2014. She noticed something wrong in the pump house, and went and got her husband and father-in-law, Jim, who entered the structure to see what was happening.
The Murrays didn’t suspect that the structure was filled with explosive methane and they had their 4-year-old daughter with them.
“At the flip of the switch, Cody heard a ‘whooshing’ sound, which he instantly recognized from his work in the oil and gas industry, and instinctively picked his father up and physically threw him back and away from the entryway to the pump house,” the lawsuit states. “In that instant, a giant fireball erupted from the pump house, burning Cody and Jim, who were at the entrance to the pump house, as well as Ashley and [the 4-year-old], who were approximately twenty feet away.”
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Cody Murray was so badly burned that he had to be airlifted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas and kept in the intensive care unit for a week. He can no longer drive or work, and the family now has to have water trucked to their ranch, which is near Fort Worth.
Jim, Ashley and the 4-year-old also had to be hospitalized and suffered first- and second-degree burns.
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“This is a potentially landmark case,” Murray’s attorney, Christopher Hamilton, told Think Progress. “I think this needs to set off an alarm for industry that they need to be casing these wells properly — in the way that scientists have been telling them for decades.”
Hamilton’s contention is that the natural gas well was not properly insulated, which allowed methane to escape and enter the Murray’s well. The complaint did not say how much money Hamilton is seeking.
EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG) is a publicly traded company that reported $14.55 billion in revenue on June 30. It is worth around $43.07 billion, according to ycharts.com.
EOG’s partner in the natural gas drilling operation is listed as Fairway Resources Partners LLC, which is described as a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GP). Goldman Sachs is worth around $268.63 billion and reported revenues of $35.76 billion on June 30, according to ycharts.com.
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