Tim & Christine Ruggiero: Wise County TX
Excerpt from “Shalefield Stories - Personal and Collected Testimonies”
Published by Steel Valley Printers
Name: Tim and Christine Ruggiero and Family
Location: Wise County, Texas
Water Contamination: Benzene • Methane • Sodium • Heavy Metals
Air Contamination: Methane • Sodium • Heavy Metals
Human Health Impact: Loss of sensation in extremities • Rashes • Nausea • Memory loss • Asthma
Oversight Failures: • Failure to notify neighbors of the occurrence of a spill; Delay in taking samples after spills occur; The companies self-report the findings
Loss of Property Value: 75% Loss of Value $257,330 to $75,240
Aruba Petroleum began drilling on a property adjacent to Tim and Christine Ruggiero’s in August 2009. On September 16, Aruba began drilling two wells on the Ruggiero property. Since that time, they have experienced several spills, a possible methane seep where bubbles ignite, constant emissions from various stages of the extraction process and noise pollution. They have had several Texas Commission Environmental Quality (TCEQ) air studies as well as private testings that show toxins exceed standards, including benzene at 120 ppb.
The Ruggiero’s ten-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with asthma. Christine has experienced rashes, nausea and memory loss. Tim has loss of sensation in his extremities.
Their home and 10-acre horse property have been devalued from $257,330 to $75,240. Because they and their neighbor do not own the mineral rights under their land, Aruba was able to drill next to their neighbor’s home and under the Ruggiero’s property, where they keep their horses, without consent or notice. In fact, the day they started drilling the company cut down their fence where the horses were grazing. They were not told ahead of time that the company planned to drill there.
Although Aruba put up a sound barrier, it is not long enough to cover the length of the house, so it does not help with the noise. They have a clear view of the rig and wastewater pit. On the afternoon of October 29th 2009, Christine reports that while she was in the kitchen, she noticed a black smoky liquid shooting across the pit onto the ground and into the neighbor’s trees. There was not an Aruba employee in sight, so Christine called the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC), and filed a complaint. Aruba only cleaned up the spill after the TRC arrived. Samples of the ground were not taken until 5 days after the spill occurred, and Aruba had watered the area down for 5 days. Christine was told that Aruba would conduct the tests and report the findings to the TRC. The TRC found problems with the pit that needed to be corrected. The TRC admitted that the areas should be tested for carcinogens, benzenes and hydrocarbons.
As Christine states, “Don’t self-report the spill and you don’t have to self-report what was in the spill, clean it up, and fill out all that paperwork. They [Aruba] exist for profit and profit only. Surface right owners are a mere nuisance and are expendable.”