The couple at the center of state and federal investigations of alleged water well contamination by gas drilling activities in North Texas has filed suit against Range Resources Corp. and others, seeking damages of $4.5 million plus $2 million for mental anguish, attorney fees, as well as trebling of damages under the Texas Business and Commercial Code.

In March the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) cleared Range of fouling water wells in the area of its Barnett Shale drilling activities (see Shale Daily, March 23). However, the company is still fighting an order by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the matter (see Shale Daily, June 23).

Steven and Shyla Lipsky are suing Range and Range Production Co. as well as parties associated with the Silverado on the Brazos Development in Weatherford, TX, which is where their home is located. The Lipskys claim that they were promised there would be no oil or gas drilling in their development. The complaint describes how the plaintiffs spent millions acquiring property in the development and building their dream home.

“In or about December 2009, plaintiffs began noticing a problem with their drinking water,” according to the complaint filed in District Court of Parker County, TX. “In July 2010, plaintiffs’ domestic well down-hole pump began experiencing mechanical problems, identified by a water well service company as ‘gas locking,’ a condition sometimes encountered in a down-hole pump when dissolved gas is released from solution by the action of the pump…By July 26, 2010, plaintiffs’ domestic water well was determined to be flammable.”

The complaint claims that contamination of the Lipsky’s water supply “has been continuous, constant and is likely to continue indefinitely.”

When contacted by NGI’s Shale Daily, a Range spokesman referred to the company’s victory at the RRC, which found that gas in the Lipsky water well most likely came from the gas-bearing Strawn Formation, which is shallower than the zone targeted by Range in its natural gas drilling.

“We expect that anyone who examines the facts surrounding this issue will reach the same conclusions of state regulators and third party subject matter experts, which is that Range is not the cause of this well documented and long-standing issue of naturally occurring methane from the shallow Strawn formation,” said spokesman Matt Pitzarella.

Allegations of methane contamination of water wells are currently being investigated in the Marcellus Shale by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (see Shale Daily, June 20).