GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) – On one side of the Joe Pool Dam lies the lake. On the other lives Rosemary Reed. “You can see the line of the dam,” she says pointing over her fence in Grand Prairie’s Westchester neighborhood.
Then, last year, a new neighbor arrived, the Chesapeake Energy Company, and it started drilling for natural gas right behind her home. “The house is shaking. Everything you own is shaking. The ground is moving,” said Reed, describing what it felt like.
Reed worried the drilling could be dangerous, and combing through the city’s public records, she found evidence she might be right. “Drilling and fracturing at Chesapeake Energy’s Corn Valley drill site may… possibly contribute to a catastrophic dam failure,” wrote the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the group that built the Joe Pool Lake Dam, in a letter to Grand Prairie in February.
“When they said, ‘catastrophic dam event’ , I mean, that, that alone scares me,” said Reed.
“I think it’s scary as hell,” agreed Grand Prairie mayor, Charles England.
England remembers receiving the letter six months ago. “Catastrophic dam failure will get your attention. Trust me.”
In the letter, though, the Army Corps of Engineers asked the city to “immediately impose a 6 month moratorium on approval of any drilling ad hydrofracturing activities within 3,000 feet of Joe Pool Dam.”
The city didn’t pass that ban until Tuesday night.
The mayor explained he’s been waiting for more information. “We’ve written a couple letters to the Corps and made a couple phone calls, but actually gotten no response,” he said.
He also said Chesapeake had stopped drilling, for a reason unknown to him. “There’s been no activity since that letter. None,” he said.
An e-mail Reed says she received from the Army Corps of Engineers last month claims just the opposite. “Chesapeake has declined to cease operations,” it says.
Chesapeake Energy did not respond to our request for comment, but in a city meeting Tuesday a spokeswoman argued the city should hold off on enacting any ban against drilling by the dam. “There’s no scientific, geological, or quantifiable information to justify such a request by the Corps,” said Leah King.
Reed, though, isn’t ready to take any risks. “It just shows their arrogance. You know, all they care about is money,” she said.