Family forced to flee gets day in court

By Brandon Evans | Published Saturday, April 5, 2014

A family forced to flee their home because of air pollution almost four years ago will finally have their day in court.

Bob and Lisa Parr of the Allison community in east Wise County filed a lawsuit against several oil and gas companies in Dallas County in March 2011, after a doctor warned them chemicals from a ring of gas wells were poisoning and could potentially kill them.

Seeing Red

SEEING RED – Lisa Parr pulls up an image of her daughter Emma, who was 7 at the time, suffering from a nose bleed possibly related to air pollution from gas wells near the family’s home in Allison. A jury trial involving this and many other ailments suffered by the family begins Monday in Dallas County Court between the Parrs and several companies associated with oil and gas production. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A jury trial in the case is set to begin Monday morning at Dallas County Court at Law No. 5. Judge Mike Greenberg will be presiding.

The Parrs are suing the companies for environmental contamination and pollution of their property and persons from natural gas operations. The list of defendants includes Aruba Petroleum, Ash Grove Resources, Encana, Halliburton, Republic Energy, Ryder Scott Oil Co. and Tejas Production Services, Inc.

Lisa Parr, her husband Bob and her young daughter Emma, who was 7 at the time, all suffered symptoms such as nosebleeds, rashes, headaches, memory loss and trembling, among a litany of other ailments. Lisa has been left with scar-pocked arms from the rashes.

The symptoms were so bad the Parrs had to leave their home in east Wise County and live out of Bob Parr’s business office in Denton for more than six months at one point. Their doctors tracked the symptoms directly to chemicals and emissions related to different phases of natural gas extraction and production.

Their home, which is located on 40 acres in a valley by Denton Creek, is surrounded by more than 50 gas wells within a two-mile radius. So many companies have been named in the suit because all levels of production, from drilling and fracking to daily operations of the wells, are culpable, said their attorney Brad Gilde.

“There are spills and high levels of emissions documented on the same days that (Lisa Parr) got sick,” Gilde said in a previous interview with the Messenger. “That makes this case clear and strong and unique.”

One example occurred the evening of July 25, 2010. The Parrs smelled a strong odor emanating from a frack tank at a site operated by Aruba Petroleum of Plano. They reported it to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Investigators arrived within hours to capture air samples.

Odors were detected up to a quarter-mile from the well site. The investigator, Damon Armstrong, reported a “plume” wafting from the tank was “visible with the naked eye.” The petroleum-like odor was so intense the investigator himself felt sick in the short time he was there, noting dizziness and sore throat in his report.

The analysis found five compounds that exceeded safe values for short-term health effects, and another 20 exceeded safe levels for long-term effects.

The investigation found elevated levels of ethane, pentane, hexane, octane, xylene and nonane, all potentially toxic chemicals.

Four days later, a medical test discovered the same chemicals inside Lisa.

Aruba Petroleum was also the target of another lawsuit from an Allison family, the Ruggieros. That suit was settled out of court.

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