Fight Over Arlington Natural Gas Drilling Expansion Isn't Over, Day Care Owner Says

TotalEnergies said it plans to meet with community members ahead of what could be final approval for drilling permits

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A day care owner says a nearby natural gas operation poses a health risk to children in her care.

But after the city of Arlington gave tentative approval to expand natural gas drilling on the site, Wanda Vincent hopes more citizens will become involved.

“There are the tanks over there, they have been there since 2010,” Vincent said.

And she added the presence of natural gas wells has been an uneasy neighbor ever since.

The owner of Mother’s Heart Learning Center in East Arlington, Vincent has watched as France-based TotalEnergies plans to add three additional gas drilling permits to the two that have been near her playground for over a decade.

The site is located in the 2000 block of South Watson Road, with her child care facility just to the north.

“So, my concern is the health and safety of the children,” Vincent said.

On Tuesday, she and several community members weighed in at Arlington City Hall, speaking out against approving a change to the company’s special use permit. They cited concerns over contaminants released during natural gas drilling.

A similar application failed 6-3 in 2020, but the Arlington City Council, on a divided 5-4 vote, gave the go-ahead to more drilling.

Arlington Mayor Jim Ross emphasized his supporting the application does not compromise his concern for the health of everyone in the city.

“It’s not just about, 'do certain contaminants cause a certain problem?' Yeah, they do,” Ross said. “But, is there sufficient data to show a causal link from this drill site to the kids there? And I can’t say that there is.”

In a statement to NBC 5, TotalEnergies said it plans to meet with community members on Dec. 8 ahead of what could be final approval for drilling permits by the city council on Dec. 14.

“Our company is a thoughtful and committed community partner operating in an environmentally-responsible way that is fully compliant with all local and state requirements of our business,” a spokesperson said.

Vincent hopes, given another vote in two weeks, there might be time to change minds.

“I feel the council did not hear the people last night,” Vincent said.

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