comments_image Comments

Trailer Talk's Frack Talk: Why a Mayor Was Forced to Leave His Town Because of Gas Drilling

Major Calvin Tillman left his beloved community of Dish, Texas (that has 60 gas wells) to protect his family from the dangers of natural gas drilling.

Continued from previous page


The key point to that is that right before this all happened, he spent $350,000 to build a big boarding facility, 'cause we're right on the edge of the Metroplex, so that would be the perfect place for people to board their horses if they lived in town. Well, of course, now nobody wants to keep their horses there, so that $350,000 barn is sitting there empty.

Artel: What does he do in this sort of case? What kinds of rights do they have when they have a situation like this? They can't sell; they sunk their money in; they've lost that. Their animals have died. What can they do?

Tillman: The only thing you can do at that point is a very long and costly lawsuit, and that's what he's doing. He is in litigation with them, and who knows when that will ever get settled? In the meanwhile, he lives there; he's subject to this; and he can't move anywhere else.

Artel: Well, that's what I was going to say, is that this is now ... You're all situated in a toxic town, so your homes have all become potentially deadly, and you can't get out, can you?

Tillman: Well, no. It's very difficult to sell a home in Dish right now.

Artel: So, this is something I think is very important for me to hear, for all of us to hear, isn't it? -- that on so many levels there are detrimental issues that are being caused by this industry. So, there are the health issues, which are very serious -- nobody wants to get cancer or a respiratory illness, or some sort of endocrine illness. Nobody wants to hear noise 24 hours a day ... not to be able to breathe because of respiratory difficulty. And then to be stuck there because you can't sell your house.

Tillman: Yeah, that's exactly right. And I think a key thing here is that Dish, Texas, is not the only place where this is a problem. Dish, Texas, is the only place that it's known, and Dish, Texas, has a mayor who's willing to fight for that.

And so, I think at the end of the day, we're going to end up getting this site cleaned up; we're going to make them put in the things that they need to have done to at least clean up our air quality to some extent. We are getting a permanent monitor installed in Dish that is a continuous air monitor, that will monitor the air there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you can get on the internet and look at that anytime.

There's a lot of other places that won't have that. They won't know what's in their air. They have children living in subdivisions that are exposed to this kind of stuff. They're the ones that need help as well, because they don't even know how bad it is.

Artel: So, you're saying that the workers don't know how bad it is. Is that what you're saying?

Tillman: I'm saying that there is a lot of other communities in the Barnett Shale who have the same problems, but they haven't went out and spent 15% of their budget, and their mayor hasn't been as aggressive as I've been to get something done and to try and protect the citizens. And so, they're still living with it; they're living with an unknown.

Artel: And so, you're away, then, Mayor Tillman ... as you say, you're the "fighting mayor," right? This is happening and you're standing by your town, and you have two small children as well, right? So you have a family, you have two small children. You're protecting their lives, their future. What interests me is, how did you make that choice? What was your life pre-becoming Mayor Calvin Tillman, and now, and your life pre-gas drilling to now? And what has led you to say, "You know what? I'm digging my heels in; I'm not leaving, even at great loss to myself because I can sell, but somehow I'm going to figure out a way to get out, but I'm staying, and I'm protecting my home"?

See more stories tagged with: