In the early 2000’s, an acquisition company in Florida contacted me to buy my property…None of us had heard about fracking yet. I owned 40 acres that I had gotten from my dad...
...The gas companies have been pestering me to drill but I kept turning them down. According to my deed, I own my mineral rights. It says clear as day, “for all claims whatsoever.
This is my ancestral home. This is my land.
In 2010, a drilling company told me they were going to drill without my permission. They said that even though I paid for my mineral rights, I don’t own them...I wanted to fight them in court, but it is nearly impossible to find a lawyer in this area that isn’t in the pocket of the industry. Our local officials aren’t any better.
The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that several mineral deeds held by County officials were null and void because of the manner in which they were sold. In 2012, three residents sued the Cleburne County Circuit Clerk claiming that deputy clerks in her office had illegally notarized oil and gas leases. According to the filing, one of the deputy clerks admitted to routinely illegally notarizing gas leases without the landowner present as a courtesy to landmen. The case made it all the way to the State Supreme Court.
For the next three years, I cried more than I didn’t. I felt betrayed by my county and my government.
The industry came onto my land in July of 2011, without my permission...It is devastating to know that you can have something for 40 years or more and someone who had never even set foot on it can come in and take it from you. Before I knew that they were even there, they had bulldozed my trees and then burned them.
There were times on my land I could barely breathe...The fluid smelled awful. It burned my eyes and made my nose run. When they were done with the pit, they buried it with some of the fluid still in it. The Arkansas Oil & Gas Commission and the Department of Health ran water tests on the stream and frack pit. The results showed low levels of radiation. On February 29, 2012 the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) cited the company for violating the Arkansas Water & Air Pollution Control Act and the Federal Clean Water Act…
During the summer of 2012, a waste hauler was investigated for illegally dumping waste water on leased sites in the area; mine was one of almost 20 suspected sites. Results from soil samples indicated chloride
levels greater than 3000ppm when compared to background levels. Again, the company was found in violation of the Arkansas Water & Air Pollution Control Act, and the Federal Clean Water Act
• Well Pad
• Waste pit
• Surface water contamination: low levels of radiation detected
• Soil contamination: pipeline spill
• Human health impacts: burning eyes, trouble breathing
• Animal health impacts: dead birds
• Industry dishonesty/disregard: illegally constructed and operated waste pit,
trash left on property, waste pit buried on site, suspected illegal dumping of
• Oversight failure
• Loss of property value: Loss of the use of her property, at least $15,000
worth of hardwood
Documentation of violations
When a representative sat at my daughter’s table, he told us that they hire many subcontractors and can’t be held responsible for what they do.
In 2014 I settled with the company for damages caused until that point...I didn’t want their money. I just want what used to be mine. When I started this I was a simple country girl who didn’t know anything about this stuff. I thought I owned my land and I could refuse anyone to go on it.
I thought the constitution applied to me.
Now walking my land is extremely hurtful for me. I often ask myself, what do I own? Do I even own the roots to my grass? A landman once told me that selling your mineral rights was no different than selling the motor in your car. I beg to differ. You can never put the land back after it’s been fracked. If we don’t have clean water, air, and soil, we have nothing.
- Sandra Ballew
More can be found in Shalefield Stories Volume 2