Naples, FL, October 8, 2014 — New public records documents reveal that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection knew on December 23 of last year, and possibly as early as October, that the Dan A. Hughes oil company was planning to hydraulically fracture their Orangetree oil well outside of Naples. The documents were received on Friday, when Hughes dropped their “trade secret” opposition to a public records lawsuit filed by Preserve Our Paradise, Inc. against the DEP.
The first released document is a Halliburton “Fracpro 2012 Hydraulic Fracture” recommendation to Hughes dated October 21, 2013. The second released document is a “Well Proposal” dated 23 December 2013 prepared for Dan A. Hughes Company by the Baker-Hughes oil services company notifying the Florida Department of Environmental Protection of Hughes intention to conduct “fracking-like” activities. Although the second document nowhere uses the term “hydraulic fracturing”, the technical specifications are virtually identical to the earlier Halliburton hydraulic fracturing recommendation. Hughes has continued to claim that the workover operation conducted at the well was not a “fracking” operation.
Don Loritz, Vice President of Preserve Our Paradise, reiterated the organization’s concern that Hughes had long planned to secretly conduct the fracking operations at the Orangetree well over the Christmas holidays, while no one would be paying attention. An anonymous phone tip on December 27, 2013 alerted Preserve Our Paradise to an oil services convoy heading for the Orangetree well alerting Preserve to concerns about fracking. Because information and public records on the Orangetree Well was not promptly provided, Paradise filed a public records case in circuit court on April 2, 2014 seeking the release of all public records on the Orangetree Well (1394). Less than a week later, on April 7, 2014, the DEP and Dan A Hughes Company signed a consent order imposing a $25,000 fine on Hughes and requiring Dan A. Hughes Company test for possible contamination. On April 18, the DEP revealed this consent order to the press alleging that it had “caught” Hughes performing an “unauthorized operation” on January 1, 2014.
Loritz explained, “For some reason, these new documents do not include cover letters or the usual DEP timestamps, so we do not know exactly when the DEP obtained the Halliburton recommendation. DEP has filed a lawsuit against Dan A. Hughes in circuit court regarding the workover, but Preserve or Paradise still has concerns about:
1) what was done to protect the public health in advance of the ‘fracking-like’ incident in Orangetree and
2) whether fracking that has changed the landscape in many parts of the nation will be allowed in Florida.”
A chronology of events surrounding the “fracking” of the Orangetree well is available at http://preserveourparadise.org/?page_id=3703.
The trade secret documents, along with other public records concerning the Orangetree Well released to Paradise in the DEP records response, are available at ftp://vsymp.org/prr%20fdep%204-2-14/Brookes%2010-3-14.