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Homeowner Says Fracking is to Blame for Explosion that Left Him Severely Injured

Sep 4, 2015

A Texas homeowner suffered severe burns and nerve damage after the water well on his family ranch exploded. Chron reports that Cody Murray, who is also a former oil field services supervisor, blames local oil and gas fracking operations for the incident. Hearing that something was not right, the 38-year old shoved his elderly father to ground right before the flames erupted 30 feet in each direction from the well house. His wife and daughter, who were nearby, suffered from first degree burns and his father was injured as well.

According to Chron, the Murray's well was located just 1,000 feet from the closest gas well; this is roughly 50 miles northwest of Fort Worth in the Barnett Shale region, where hydraulic fracking began. The explosion was caused by methane contamination in the water well. In order to win the lawsuit, the Murrays need to show that the methane was not due to natural contamination.

Fracking has been a controversial topic, raising public health and environmental concerns. The process essentially blasts a large volume of water into a natural rock formation in order to extract natural resources. The fracking fluid used for this process contains a cocktail of chemicals, some of which are known to be hazardous and carcinogenic. There have been concerns over water well contamination as a result of fracking. Additionally, the disposal of fracking fluid via injection wells deep underground and believed to cause a number of manmade earthquakes.

In 2011, Duke researchers showed a link between methane contamination in water wells and proximity to gas drilling sites. According to study author Robert Jackson, who is now with Stanford University, water supplies can be contaminated when drilling shafts puncture gas packets. "I'm not saying that means it happened [in this case]," he said, according to Chron. "But in principle it is plausible." Jackson said generally only poorly-built wells are susceptible to contamination; the water can be tainted when the cement casing around the shaft cracks.

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