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Fort Worth Could Lift Ban On Drilling Water Disposal In December

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Just three days after Fort Worth extended its on five-year ban on burying gas drilling waste in the city, CBS11 has discovered the city could lift the ban by December.

It would allow toxic waste water produced during drilling to be injected deep underground.

Tuesday the city council will consider setting a public hearing on the idea for December 6.

"We're shocked," said Esther McElfish. "We're absolutely shocked to hear they've done this."

McElfish is president of North Central Texas Communities Alliance, a group that has worked to address community concerns over gas drilling in the Barnett Shale.

Saltwater injection wells have been opposed by residents fearful of groundwater contamination.

They have also been mentioned as a possible cause for small earthquakes in places that have never had them before.

Several neighborhood leaders CBS11 spoke to Friday still thought the moratorium on the wells was secure through April 2012.

"The citizens are told one thing and there's a lot of action behind the scenes that lead in another direction," McElfish said.

Nothing has changed since the ban was extended according to city spokesman Jason Lamers.

There is continuing concerns though over road conditions in the Alliance area on the north end of the city.

Small roads not built to handle heavy truck traffic have broken down under the stress of vehicles going back and forth to well pads.

"When you have those 18 wheelers constantly running up and down these streets that aren't keeping pace with the normal traffic, it builds," said Lamers. "It compounds the problems were having with transportation."

Wells would allow the water to be buried, instead of trucked out.

And just because the ban was supposed to run into next year, doesn't mean it can't end early.

The ordinance lifting the ban has already been completed.

If the council approves the public hearing for December 6, it's possible it could vote on the new ordinance by December 13.

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