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Fracking Blamed In Lawsuit Filed By Families In Johnson County

ALVARADO (CBSDFW.COM) - Two families in Johnson County are blaming fracking and earthquakes for damage to their homes. They have filed a lawsuit naming the controversial natural gas drilling process as the cause for cracking walls and shifting floors in their homes.

Resident Ed Specht has lived in his house for more than 20 years. And now, he says, it's falling apart.

"It's just literally sinking in the ground - cracking, breaking apart," said Specht.

It wasn't until recent earthquakes started shaking up his neighborhood in Alvarado that Specht's home had problems. "Cracks in the walls, the doors won't shut, the windows won't raise..." Specht and his wife say fracking is to blame for the earthquakes, which are destroying their home.

In short, fracking is a process that blasts millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals deep underground. This forces cracks in the shale, freeing natural gas for collection.

In the lawsuit the families say that process is to blame for the damaging quakes. They're suing four energy companies.

"This was supposed to be our dream home when we built it and our retirement home," explained Specht. "We can't retire here because it just isn't going to last."

Just up the road Jan Finn is the other family part of the lawsuit. She said her home was damaged after one of the earthquakes last summer.

"There was a huge bang we thought a semi hit our house the next two or three days there was a huge crack in our bedroom that you could stick your finger in," said Finn. "They (cracks) started popping up at different times." Finn said she's already had to spent $6500 to prop up her home.

Both families said the companies responsible need to fix their homes. "I would like to live in a sturdy house and not be scared to go to sleep at night in my own home," said Norma Specht.

Shell Trading is named in the lawsuit. Shell spokesperson, Kimberly Windon said the company "had no acreage in Johnson County. We believe Shell was inappropriately named in the suit."

EOG Resources is also named and a spokesperson says the company doesn't comment on matters that are under litigation.

In an email to CBS 11, Jeff Shields Communications Manager with Sunoco Logistic said "We are a pipeline company with terminals for transport and distribution of petroleum products. As we do not extract petroleum, we would not be involved with hydraulic fracturing. As for the lawsuit, as a matter of policy, we don't comment on pending litigation."

And Enterprise Crude Oil spokesperson Rick Rainey says, "The inclusion of Enterprise in this lawsuit shows a very poor understanding of our operations. We are not an energy producer, nor do we engage in any hydraulic fracturing activities," according to Enterprise Crude Oil spokesperson Rick Rainey.

He said the company doesn't have any crude oil operations in Johnson County.

But an attorney for the families said all the companies were involved in the fracking process, which led to the earthquakes and there could be more named later.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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