First fracking trial results in $3 million verdict

First fracking trial results in $3 million verdict

Approximately 15 million people in the United States live within a mile from a fracking site, causing many lawsuits against corporations for a variety of issues, including contaminated drinking water and resulting health issues. While most are settled out of court, a Texas family fought and won against Aruba Petroleum.

Citing damages to their 40-acre property and health, Bob and Lisa Parr sued in 2011 and recently won, making their case the first official fracking trial. Aruba Petroleum is located 22 miles from their ranch, and the Parr’s believe its presence caused their water to be undrinkable and their daughter to have disabling nosebleeds.

Fracking (or hydraulic fracturing) is a controversial practice used to mine natural gas. Decomposing organisms form natural gas trapped in the ground, far below the surface. To intensify the release of gas, the rocks must be broken, or fractured.

Most wells are vertical, although advancements starting in the 1990s allowed gas companies to access the shale source directly through horizontal wells. Travelling along shale layers, these paths stem from vertical shafts. To create the fractures, high-pressure water is injected into the layers by the millions of gallons.

The water is laced with multiple chemicals to eliminate bacteria that may clog the layer, dissolve minerals and add sand to support the fractures. This mixture isn’t regulated and includes acids, poisons and detergents that can contaminate water sources. The higher volumes of frack water inserted releases more methane gas and carbon, thus increasing the risk for explosions and affecting global climate change.

In Pennsylvania, the rapid growth of Marcellus shale allows others to model the Commonwealth’s practices to safely replicate around the world. Even with the Keystone State’s success, accidents of all kinds can occur.

During the early morning of Monday, April 21, a crash occurred in Washington County, possibly releasing dozens of gallons of fracking wastewater into Chartiers Creek. A truck carrying off-road diesel fuel collided with a tank truck carrying the frack water. In turn, that truck collided with another tank carrying the same, problematic cargo. Both tank trucks are owned by Highland Environmental LLC in Somerset.

While experts say the waste was mostly confined to the road, contents did slip into the creek and the soil, potentially causing problems with contamination.

Fracking is a gamble with benefits and dangers. The development of Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania is monitored, but accidents still happen, causing both property and health damages.

If you or your family experienced complications from fracking in your area, contact us today. We may be able to help.


Born, M. & Templeton, D. (2014). Washington County crash sends fracking water in stream. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. [Link]
Brantley, S. L. & Meyendoroff, A. (2013). The Facts on Fracking. The New York Times. [Link]
Clark, M. (2014). $3 million verdict for ‘first fracking trial.’ MSNBC. [Link]

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