Corps Of Engineers: Dam Letter Got Grand Prairie’s Attention

GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) – Riding across the lake to the Joe Pool Dam, Major Andrew Liffring with the Army Corps of Engineers found no reason to fear that it could suddenly give way.  “It looks fine to me.”

Six months ago, his predecessor seemed to feel differently.  He wrote a letter to the city of Grand Prairie warning natural gas drilling could ‘possibly contribute to catastrophic dam failure’ with thousands of lives and properties in danger.

Last week, Grand Prairie mayor Charles England called the letter and possible failure “scary as hell.”

But was such an alarming warning really necessary?

On Wednesday, CBS 11 caught up with Major Liffring as he was walking out of a meeting the mayor said he’d been requesting with the Corps of Engineers for months.

He said the second letter, dated April 18, is more appropriate in addressing risks at the dam.

Liffring says what the corps really wanted to say was simply that drilling or fracking near the dam may present an increased risk, not that it will.

So why such dire language in that first letter? The major couldn’t say.  “I really don’t know. I wasn’t with the corps at the time. I think it was to make sure we got the city’s attention.”

It did get the city’s attention. Last week, Grand Prairie passed a moratorium to stop further drilling by Chesapeake energy.

Chesapeake has one natural gas well within a thousand feet of the dam, and has permits to drill another four.

The second letter, never made it to Mayor England, even though it was dated in April. “We never saw that letter until today.”

Major Liffring says the Corps’ intention in both letters was simply to persuade the city to stop permitting any drilling within 3,000 feet of the dam, while the Corps studies what possible impact it could have.

He says when this dam was built, hydrofracking didn’t even exist, and was never taken into consideration.

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  • Tiredofpoliticians

    The Corp is not going to say it is unsafe on a whim – sounds like Chesapeke and/or politicians are pulling some highpowered strings to get their way – who cares if anyone gets hurt as long as they get their drilling… Major Liffring sounds like an idiot.

  • david

    i got my kick back from the gas company so i think i’ll re-write my letter now…

  • Greg

    And your investigation is…..? Leave the Corp alone and let them do their study to make sure the Dam and all those affected are safe. End of Story! The only real investigation should have been why the letter was in the office of the Mayor for 5 months yet he only saw it yesterday for the first time. Hey maybe there’s a Chesapeke employee working undercover in the Mayors office!! Did you ask Chesapeke if they’ve done independant studies, or looked into other companies studies on hydraulic fracking. Sorry Andrea this story was not put together well at all, no Peabody Award here.

  • Stephen

    Just another ploy by the anti-drilling opponents to KILL all drilling in Grand Prairie. Why has the Corp not been studying the impact for the past 7 months? The real investigation needs to be why the first letter made it to the mayor and the other letter was “mysteriously” lost for 5 months. Let the Corp do their job and I’m sure they will find there will be no impact to dam since all drilling from that site is to the north.

  • Todd

    This is all a political move. The only investigation that should be going on, is against Mayor England! Mayor England does not want drilling in Grand Prairie, and this was the only way he could get a moratorium passed. Mayor England conveniently leaves out facts, to suit his story. First, the drilling on this site is all going NORTH, away from the dam. Second, there’s no need for a moratorium, as the Corp has had plenty of time to do their study. No drilling has taken place near the dam for well over six months now. Why are they just now asking for the moratorium?? I’ll tell you why…..because Mayor England decided to get involved!

  • John

    I smell a rat…..and his name is Mayor Charles England. This is all his scheme to keep drilling out of Grand Prairie. It’s well established that he is against drilling, and now he’s flexing his political muscle to make sure it stops. Shame on you Mr. Mayor!

    • concerned64


    • Ray Farmer

      Why would the mayor want to keep drilling out of Grand Prairie? What does he stand to gain from such a move? Maybe he has taken a closer look, at long last, at the other areas where drilling is occurring all over the nation. Maybe all the “anecdotal” stories of contaminated water and air, wrecked health and property values are starting to ad up. Maybe it’s looking more and more like drilling is not something that should happen in close proximity to people and water. Maybe the mayor is trying to protect the good citizens of Grand Prairie.

      I smell a rat alright but it’s not the Grand Prairie Mayor.

  • Sarina

    Simply saying that something is an “investigation” does not make it an “investigation.” Channel 11 gives real journalism a really bad name. I just wish they would stick to what they do best ~ reading news from police scanners is their expertise. I think maybe the “rat” is Channel 11 for doing such a terrible story. And all the comments “against” Mayor England…oh, please. The BIG RAT in the room ~ Chesapeake. Greg, Stephen, Todd and John…I won’t call you ALL “rats,” but I will say you all sound like the SAME one.

    • Ray Farmer

      Totally agree with this, Sarina! You can’t just throw out the word “predecessor” and not go further into it. Is that guy face down in a drilling waste pit in Wise County? What happened to him?

  • John

    Out of curiosity, exactly why do you think Chesapeake is the “Big Rat”?

  • Todd

    Sarina- I will admit, I DO have a vested interest in the drill site in question, along with all other drill sites in Grand Prairie. However, I am NOT Chesapeake. I am simply a citizen of Grand Prairie, and a believer that more is going on here than just “an investigation”. I believe the mayor has his hand firmly in this as a way to get rid of drilling in Grand Prairie. Period.

  • Sarina

    Todd, really? You mean, the Mayor would try to protect people’s lives? My goodness. What kind of Mayor is that, anyway???

  • Fracking: It looks fine to me

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  • concerned64

    In 2010, GP got a total of $132,000 so I don’t think they are losing too much by having a moratorium.

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