BlueStone withdraws Lake Arlington disposal well application

The announcement ends a lengthy battle over a proposed wastewater disposal well in the proximity of the city waterway

  • The injection well proposed by BlueStone Natural Resources near Lake Arlington
    The saltwater disposal well proposed by BlueStone would have placed the well in proximity of Lake Arlington.
Zack Maxwell

In the face of public opposition, an application to drill a disposal well on the west side of Lake Arlington has been withdrawn by the applicant.

Oklahoma-based BlueStone Natural Resources II, LLC announced Friday afternoon that it has withdrawn its application submitted earlier this year to drill a saltwater disposal well in Southeast Fort Worth, approximately 9,300 feet away from the Lake Arlington Dam.

The application, which would have formally created the Cravens Saltwater Disposal well, met fast opposition during a February City Council meeting, at which several residents requested the City take legal action to block its approval.

Disposal wells, regulated and approved by the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC), are used by drilling companies to dispose of brackish water and flowback fluids resulting from hydraulic fracturing and oil drilling.

A statement from BlueStone spokesperson Kate Heckenkemper highlights the fact that the TRC found their application to be “technically and administratively” in compliance with State regulations.

“A key, beneficial community aspect of BlueStone's plan is that it would allow for water to be piped, rather than trucked, to the Cravens SWD Well for disposal,” Heckenkemper said. “However, BlueStone has decided at this time it will withdraw its pending application for its Cravens SWD Well, in order to align optimal company growth and expansion opportunities.”

She did not go into detail as to whether or not opposition from elected officials and residents played into their decision.

Among those elected officials was State Rep. Chris Turner, whose district embodies much of East Arlington.

“The application generated a lot of concern from both Arlington and Fort Worth with respect to how the well might impact property values, water quality, and even Lake Arlington’s dam,” Turner told the Arlington Voice.

Arlington, Fort Worth, and the Trinity River Authority all filed letters of protest with the TRC. The City of Arlington announced in March that it had retained an Austin-based law firm to represent the city in hearings.

Gas well ordinances for both Arlington and Fort Worth expressly prohibit injection wells. However, there was concern the TRC would leverage House Bill 40 -- a State law adopted in 2014 which prevents cities from regulating “underground activity” -- to override local authority.

In an early response to the company’s steadfastness, Turner had introduced two amendments to State regulations which would have banned injection wells within three miles of a dam, lake, or reservoir and removed HB 40’s capacity to override local ordinances.

But following a “successful” negotiation session between BlueStone’s president and the mayors of Arlington and Fort Worth, Turner withdrew his amendments.

“There’s been a lot of discussion within the community about this issue over the past several months,” Turner said. “I took the opportunity to speak about those concerns on the floor of the House of Representatives. I’m hopeful all those things together had an impact.”

He wouldn’t speculate on the exact reasoning behind BlueStone’s withdrawal, but added that he is “glad and appreciative” and willing to accept their statement at “face value.”

The TRC had scheduled a public hearing on the issue for May 24 and 25. A TRC spokesperson told the Arlington Voice more than 2,700 comments were submitted related to the application. They do not categorize them by oppositional or supportive, however.

It was further confirmed that BlueStone had formally withdrawn its application.

“BlueStone’s proposal was to drill, complete, operate, and monitor the Cravens SWD well in ways that not only meet, but exceeded, the requirements imposed by Texas law and enforced by the Railroad Commission,” Heckenkemper said.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams was not immediately available to comment on the development.

BlueStone acquired Quicksilver Resources in 2016 after the company filed for bankruptcy. They now operate over 1,000 wells in the Barnett Shale.