Monday, August 10, 2015
By DAVID LEE
DALLAS (CN) – A water well exploded and burned a Texas family of four after being contaminated with methane from fracking for natural gas, the family claims in court.
The husband, Cody Murray, sued EOG Resources, Fairway Resources LLC and three Fairway subsidiaries in Dallas County Court on Thursday. Defendant Fairway Resources GP, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs.
“This is a tragic case arising from the flash explosion of a private water well that had been contaminated with methane as a result of the defendants’ drilling and extraction activities,” the complaint states.
“The explosion caused severe and extensive burns to Cody Murray, leaving the 38-year-old husband and father permanently disfigured and disabled. The explosion of the contaminated water well also caused serious burn injuries to his father, wife, and 4-year-old daughter.”
Murray is a rancher in Perrin, an unincorporated community of about 500 in Jack County, some 35 miles west of Fort Worth. He and his father, Jim, entered the pump house on his property on Aug. 2, 2014, to see why pressurized water was spraying inside it.
“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 complaint 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 [Cody’s wife] Ashley and [daughter] A.M., who were approximately 20 feet away.”
Murray was seriously burned on his arms, upper back, neck, forehead and nose. He is unable to work and may never be able to work again.
“Cody spent a week in Parkland Hospital’s intensive care unit and burn unit. Even after he was discharged home, Cody’s burns remained for an additional ten weeks,” the complaint states. “In addition, Cody suffered significant neurological damage in the fire, as the sensory nerves that run throughout the skin were destroyed by the burns. These neurological deficits remain today. Cody suffers from paresthesias and extreme weakness in his hands and arms. Cody cannot drive, as he cannot grip the steering wheel with his hands.”
The Murrays say the gas drilling is the “only possible” source of contamination of the well. Two gas wells are about 1,000 feet northeast of the Murrays’ water well.
“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 complaint states. “The high levels of methane in the Murrays’ well were not ‘naturally occurring.'”
EOG Resources did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
The Murrays seek actual and punitive damages for negligence, trespass, nuisance, lost wages, physical impairment, pain and suffering, continuing medical care, disfigurement and loss of consortium.
They are represented by Christopher Hamilton with Standly Hamilton in Dallas.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is credited with helping to create an oil and gas renaissance in the United States, which has driven down prices at the pump. Critics say the high-pressure fracturing of underground rock can contaminate water supplies and even cause earthquakes.
This is not the first such lawsuit. Another Texas family sued after flammable water came out of their kitchen tap.