Recieved 10/25/03

I own a 7 acre piece of property in north Texas that consists of a gently sloping hillside, a pond, about 100 large trees including a set of 8 trees in the backyard of my home that form a canopy.  My son's childhood tree-house and sand box are in the backyard.  The property has a double-wide mobile home on it (the only place my son ever lived until last March), a barn/workshop I built myself over a 3 month period about 20 years ago.   I have house plans for building an earth-sheltered house in the side of the hill.  I was set to begin construction on that dream home in 2002.

This beautiful place, my lovely home of 20 years, is now uninhabitable and almost worthless.  Three years ago yellow stakes showed up next to my fence and before I understood what was happening a high-pressure natural gas pipeline was being installed within 6 feet of the fence on three sides.  Before I even found out who was planting the pipeline I discovered that construction was beginning across the road on a gigantic natural gas compression station.

Today, every square foot of the property is saturated with a low frequency, pulsating rumble of two 16 cylinder engines each the size of a locomotive.   I went for 11 months getting as little as 2 hours sleep a night while the operators of this monstrosity kept promising to abate the noise.  Their efforts resulted in absolutely no reduction of the low frequency noise.   I got very sick.  My son started having a great deal of difficulty with his school grades.  His friends stopped coming to the house.  At the risk of sounding too dramatic I must say there is no way really to describe the hell we endured from this.  It was Chinese water torture… it got worse and worse.  I started worrying that I might really go insane because of the torture and because few people seemed to understand how awful it was.

The operator had sound "experts" come to measure the alleged improvements they made and even though I told them many times the nose was intolerable when the wind was from the south, that it was worse when it was cold and worse still when the humidity was high, the came in August, on a day when the wind was still.  As you might guess, they concluded they had fixed the problem with their "extraordinary efforts."

I then spent several thousand dollars to hire my own sound expert to do a survey.  He found, among other things, that over 50db of low frequency noise was present in my bedroom every second of every day.  My lawyer sent the operators the survey.  They claimed my expert, a person who has testified as an expert on noise and sound in courts for over 20 years, was unqualified.

On days when the property is down wind from the compression station the smell of gas wafts across the property.  Most of the time, when people drive by the station on the way to my property they small gas, but it's not the smell that's important.  It's what one does not smell.  I found out, almost by accident, that the operator of this plant, Devon Energy, has a permit to release 100 tons of toxins each year less than 50 feet from my property!  These are gases that have no smell.

Inquires, complaints, demands, pleas to local and federal agencies rendered nothing but double speak.  I asked my county government for help.  I asked state agencies to help.  I asked the EPA for help and got a very sad letter from an official who lamented the fact that they've been stripped of all their power.  I spent almost every evening and every weekend for a year writing letters, sending emails and doing research on the Internet in a vain effort to stop the horror of this thing.

On doctor's orders I abandoned my home on March 15, 2003.  My son and I now live in a small apartment  where I sleep on the couch.  I go to my former home twice a week to pick up mail and mow the lawn but it is and extremely painful, emotional experience.

It's my belief that I now have diabetes and other health ailments from enduring night after night of not being able to sleep and smelling natural gas and other toxins when going outside. It has been an unbelievable nightmare.

By they way, I do have an attorney working on this matter but the company, Devon Energy, is filibustering and apparently trying to deplete my savings until I go broke and give up. They have many judges, legislators, bureaucrats and law enforcement people in their pockets.  The "regulatory" agencies in Texas are essentially just enablers of the Oil and Gas industry.   On several occasions I've mentioned the name Devon on the phone and sensed a gasp or wince on the other end of the line.   People are afraid of these abusers.  They act much like war lords in 3rd world countries, doing whatever serves them and making a mockery of the "enforcement" rules.

If you check with you find "Energy" companies have invested heavily in campaign "contributions" to legislators and agency heads.  The Railroad Commissioner in Texas, the person who is supposed to regulate these characters, took money from virtually every Energy company operating in the state.

If you know of any politician or bureaucrat that will listen to me and take action please let me know.

click HERE to hear
the sound from Kens
front porch of his house
file size - 864 kb

Ken Bateman
Justin, Texas