FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Health and air quality concerns surrounding gas drilling sites have been a hot topic in the Barnett Shale. For one group of people in Southwest Fort Worth, their health is already a major concern. Now a gas drilling site has been approved for the parking lot right in front of their dialysis center in the 5100 block of Old Granbury Road.
Michael Trichel has been getting treatments at the Tarrant Dialysis Center for more than two years. He depends on dialysis three times a week to stay alive. "I have end-stage renal disease, which is kidney failure," Trichel said, "Most the people who go here are very delicate. This sustains our life."
"If they don't do these treatments as prescribed, these patients will die," said Dr. Ponniah Sankar, who runs the clinic.
The staff and many of the patients are very concerned about a proposed drilling site approved by the City of Fort Worth last Tuesday, which will be within 600 feet of their facility.
The medical group which owns the dialysis practice only leases a space in the Southcliff Center, so they were not consulted by the drilling company, Vantage Energy, Sankar explained. "The patients will be put into potential hardship with the noise, the dust and the smell so close to their dialysis facility," the doctor said.
"It would be awful," said Doris Bonner, who started dialysis at the clinic three months ago. "The noise, the trucks, the drilling."
"I have cardic problems, kidney failure, diabetes, respiratory problems," said Doris Hickerson, who also depends on dialysis, "and I think it's pretty close to us to have to be here three days a week."
The city council voted to approve a portion of the shopping center as a drill site. Several buildings, which are now vacant, will be demolished.
"We have abided by all of the guidelines set forth in the Fort Worth gas drilling ordinance and will continue to do so." said Nancy Farrar, a spokesperson for Vantage, "We pride ourselves in trying to go beyond the requirements of city ordinances and the other regulations we are governed by to accomodate our neighbors whenever possible and plan to follow this policy with this drill site as well."
Those who operate the 24-chair clinic disagree. They attended last Tuesday's council meeting, but were not allowed to address council members because they did not sign up to speak prior to the meeting. "We went to the city council and we did not know the procedure," Sankar said, "so we could not present our grievances to the city council."
"I guess they weren't even concerned about our interests or why we were there," said Hickerson, who went to the meeting "I wish the City would be more concerned about the citizens in Fort Worth."
"Why the City of Fort Worth gave them the exemptions to let them drill here, I have no idea." Trichel said.
Dr. Sankar fears the medical facility and its patients will be in danger if the parking lot turns into an industrial site. "We believe this center can not funcition if this drilling goes ahead," he explained. " The center will have to close and as a result, patients will have to travel longer distances to get their dialysis the staff will lose their jobs."
The center has requested a meeting with Vantage Energy. The company said they will work to address any questions or concerns at that time, said Farrar.
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