By BEN TINSLEY
THREE RIVERS – Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff announced Monday he is joining McMullen County Judge James Teal’s opposition to a planned oil and gas waste disposal facility near Tilden that is believed to pose a potential threat to the area’s water supply.
“This one sends out a red flag,” Judge Huff said. “Visiting with Judge Teal and learning more about this project I think it’s pretty easy to see how this can end up being a serious situation. If you look at the number of people who depend on the water supply from the Frio River as it flows into Choke Canyon and the Nueces River down in Corpus Christi, a lot of the Coastal Bend depends on this water this industrial landfill (is potentially threatening). It’s too big of a project not to take notice.”
The planned oil and gas waste disposal facility would be built by Petro Waste Environmental LP of San Antonio.
George Wommack, chief executive officer of Petro Waste Environmental LP, responded to a reporter’s inquires about the project in writing, but deferred comment on the matter to two colleagues, Gretchen Brice and Lesley. Brice indicated she would call the reporter back but had not reached him as of Tuesday.
Judge Teal said McMullen County representatives hope to convince Petro Waste Environmental LP to possibly relocate the disposal facility.
The letter to the railroad commission states that the McMullen County Commissioners court is the only governmental body with any regulatory authority on this disposal site proposed by Petro Waste Environmental LP. The site would be on property four miles north of unincorporated Tilden.
Meanwhile, Judge Huff said he intends to bring the matter to the Live Oak County Commissioners Court for a vote of support for McMullen County relatively soon.
Last month, Judge Teal filed a formal letter of protest with the Texas Railroad Commission (backed by members of the McMullen County Commissioners Court) citing apprehensions about “potentially hazardous waste” and requesting the Railroad Commission conduct a public hearing on the matter.
On their “Notice of Application for a Commercial Disposal Facility” placed in area newspapers on March 21, officials with Petro Waste Environmental, LP of San Antonio applied to the Railroad Commission to operate a commercial disposal facility “to treat and dispose of non-hazardous oil and gas waste at the McMullen County Reclamation & Disposal Facility.”
Teal said in his letter the company plans to “dump and dispose of a broad variety of oil and gas related operational waste” on the aforementioned 1,500 acres in McMullen County.
The forms of oil and gas waste listed in the formal letter of protest include water and based drilling fluid and associated cuttings, tank bottoms of various kinds, waste materials from produced water collecting pits, produced formation sand, non-injectable waste waters, soil contaminated with produced water, crude oil or condensation solid waste from gas dehydration and sweetening, iron sulfide, spent activated carbon and other filtering and separation media, and waste such as contaminated concrete or wood.
Judge Teal said Monday that he has not yet received any response from the Texas Railroad Commission regarding his letter of protest.
“We don’t have a hearing yet, but our neighbors are all supporting us in opposing this waste landfill,” he said. “We will continue to try to gain support for our cause throughout the region.”
Ben Tinsley is a reporter for The Progress newspaper in Three Rivers. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by phone at 361-786-3022. Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/BenTinsley, Google at http://plus.google.com/+BenTinsley or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.