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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Amendment: Thou Shalt Not Drill Here

Our last blog post mentioned a sleight of hand regarding an amendment to the Gas Well Ordinance Fire Prevention Ordinance.  We learned that an important section from the International Fire Code was removed when the gas drilling ordinance was revised in 2011 
Now the City put it back in.  Here is that staff report, and here is the ordinance amendment.

Councilman, Robert Shepard, wanted  to take this item (VIII B 2) off the consent agenda to be considered separately with the following language:

To subsection 3406. the language would read as follows:

"Where wells exist on a drill site additional wells may [sic] be drilled and drill zones may be established within 300 feet (91440 mm) of buildings with an occupancy in group A, E, or I.  If feasible, additional wells shall not be located closer to the buildings than existing wells."

Here is that video clip:

Apparently, gas wells have already been drilled closer than 300 feet from buildings where people assemble.  So now ~ in essence ~ we clean things up up and make it legal.  It sure is handy having a lawyer on the city council!

(We wonder if Mr. Shepherd intended to use the words "may not" instead of "may" when changing the language in the amendment.  Arlington grants too many loopholes to undesirable neighbors ~ this time with the clause, "if feasible.")  
This is how the subsection 3406. of the International Fire Code reads:

In case the print is too small to see, this is what it says,

"Wells shall not be drilled within 300 feet (91440 mm) of buildings with an occupancy in Group *A, *E or *I.

Click here for the International Fire Code.  It is curious that the City of Arlington is adopting an amendment from the 2009 code when the 2012 has been out for some time.  In fact, the 2015 code is now available for viewing.  When we asked about this, the City said that they only adopt every other Code that is published. 

That's all for now on how to write a city ordinance.  Don't know whether to tackle the next story or go for a beer, but you won't find me hanging out in any bars closer than 300 feet from any shale gas wells. 

*A - Assembly
*E - Educational
*I - Institutional

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to Write a Gas Drilling Ordinance

Today we will teach you how to write a gas drilling fire prevention ordinance.  First, you must learn this basic magic trick ~  also known as the sleight of hand

Now watch this short video clip from the August 5, 2014 afternoon session of the Arlington, TX City Council meeting.  Pay close attention to the exchange between Councilman Robert Shepard and Fire Chief Crowson regarding the International Fire Code and an amendment to the City's gas drilling fire prevention ordinance: 

Get Microsoft Silverlight  
Arlington, TX City Council Meeting
8/5/2014 Afternoon Session

If you have trouble viewing this video, click on this link.  Scroll to Section III. C. 2 and click on the link that says, "Evening Agenda Items."

Abracadabra, it's Magic!!

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Faux Surveillance

A group of thieves is moving this way!!!

This time Chesapeake is the victim.   According to incident reports obtained via an open records request, thieves are breaking onto gas drill sites and stealing copper wire.  Apparently, Chesapeake told the City that was the reason why so many of their drill sites did not have  lightning arrestor systems or grounding in place.  Good excuse.  Although they failed inspection for this particular deficiency at numerous sites, only two reports of theft turned up in our search.  One incident occurred at the infamous Bruder Site.  An Arlington Detective spoke to the Chesapeake Energy Security Manager.  Here is an excerpt of that conversation:
"There is no video evidence from this offense or any witnesses... the Arlington well sites do not have upgraded security like the ones in Fort Worth and Johnson County and believes a group of thieves from that area is moving this way."
Despite no witnesses, no video evidence, the reportee ~ a pumper who works for Chesapeake ~  provided the dispatching officer a lengthy narrative including the names of possible suspects who happen to  drive a red Chevy pickup truck.  All heresay.

We called a city in Johnson County to check out the security manager's statement.  We spoke with Erik Welch, Burleson's Gas Well Coordinator.  (Erik previously worked under Collin Gregory before Collin became Arlington's Gas Well Coordinator.)

We learned that Burleson's security requirements ARE more stringent than Arlington's.  Their gas drilling ordinance mandates cameras in high pedestrian areas and any sites within 1,000 feet of a building or public gathering space.  Cameras must capture CLEAR video images as well as traffic entering and exiting the gate.  It must also capture CLEAR images of on-site production equipment AND be equipped with motion detection and  panning technology.  Video data must be maintained 400 hours, include the date and time, and have the capability to be viewed at a monitoring facility. 

Arlington's gas drilling ordinance is weak and poorly written.
Click here and go to Section 7.01 item 25 for a comparison.