March 8, 2011

Wise County family says drilling forced them to leave home

The Wise County family has sued companies involved in natural gas drilling, alleging that equipment and operations related to more than 50 wells around their home in recent years caused various ailments.

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DALLAS -- A Wise County family sued companies involved in natural gas drilling Tuesday, alleging that equipment and operations related to more than 50 wells around their home in recent years poisoned their blood, caused various ailments and forced them to move out.

Lisa and Bob Parr said they have suffered a two-year nightmare because of the drilling activity around their 40-acre property in Allison, a farm community in eastern Wise County. More than 50 natural gas wells have been drilled within two miles of the property, according to the suit.

The couple blames spills of hazardous waste and emissions of toxic gases from production tanks and various industrial equipment for their health problems. The suit lists more than 20 symptoms the family has experienced since 2008, including nosebleeds, migraines, open sores, heart arrhythmia, abdominal pain and coughing.

The suit's charges include assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and gross negligence.

Lisa Parr said she was hit the hardest because she spent the most time at home.

"Most days, I felt so bad and confused I just stayed in bed," she said.

Her worry deepened when her daughter, Emma, began experiencing symptoms such as nosebleeds.

"There are days she would wake up 6 o'clock in the morning covered in blood ... crying," Lisa Parr said.

In April, an environmental health specialist conducted various tests on the family and found "natural gas chemicals, compounds, and/or metals" in their bodies, according to the suit. That prompted the family to move out of their home.

Brad Gilde, the Parrs' lawyer, declined to identify the specialist.

Bob Parr described the lawsuit as "a last resort."

"I have no choice," he said. "I need to protect my family and my way of life."

The suit was filed in Dallas County court against five drilling operators: Aruba Petroleum of Plano; EnCana Oil & Gas of Calgary, Alberta; Republic Energy of Dallas; Ryder Scott Oil Co. of Wichita Falls; and Tejas Western Corp. of Granbury. Most of the wells near the Parrs' property are operated by Aruba Petroleum or Tejas Western, according to the suit.

The suit lists four other "natural gas service providers" as defendants: Ash Grove Resources of Topeka, Kan.; Halliburton Co. of Houston; Ryder Scott Co. of Houston; and Tejas Production Services of Victoria.

A representative of Ryder Scott Co., a petroleum consultant, said the company's presence in the lawsuit is a mistake, as the company has no ownership or business interest in the drilling operations around the Parrs' property.

Spokesman Mike Wysatta said he believes that the family's lawyers thought the company was still connected to Ryder Scott Oil Co. The two companies have not had any connection for over 50 years, Wysatta said.

The other eight defendants either declined to comment on the lawsuit or did not respond to requests for comment.

The Parr family said they didn't want to leave their home.

"We were forced to move," Lisa Parr said, fighting to speak through tears. "This is our home. This is where we want to be."

Aman Batheja, 817-390-7695

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