Ineos Aerial View on Google

The state fined Ineos Nitriles at Green Lake $15,802 on Wednesday for violating rules related to how it operates wells that store its waste.

Records show that in 2015, the injection pressure for one of the wells went above the allowed limit.

In 2016, the company failed to monitor whether a well was corroding as it is required to do every quarter.

And finally, records show that in 2017, the wastewater the company was injecting into the well was more acidic than it was allowed to be.

Acidity is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic.

Ineos spokesman Charles Saunders said Ineos reported to the state that its wastewater was between 8.1 and 8.3 for about 13 hours. It was allowed to be at 8.

“Relatively speaking, these readings place the test water just beyond basic water and more akin to saltwater or water with baking soda,” Saunders wrote in an emailed statement. “While Ineos is disappointed that the exceedance occurred, site operations were quick to react and Ineos has instituted additional checks within its measuring protocols to prevent similar exceedances.”

Brian McGovern, a spokesman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said Ineos is permitted to discharge into its wells spent caustic or acid water, process water from the production of hydrocyanic acid and associated products, and liquid that leaks from its onsite landfills. The maximum fine for these violations was $25,00, and Ineos has had two similar violations, but the state reduced the company’s fine for its “good faith effort to comply,” records show.

The state will also defer about $3,160 of the fine if Ineos corrects the violations in a timely manner.

Already, the company has paid $6,321 of the fine. That money went to the Texas Association of Resource and Conservation Areas Inc. It will organize an event at which Calhoun County residents can bring hazardous household waste for proper disposal.

Hazardous household waste includes paint, thinners, pesticides, oil and gas, corrosive cleaners and fertilizers.

Last year, another company that makes a livestock feed supplement announced it would build a plant based at the Ineos Nitriles Green Lake.

That company, Novus International, said Ineos would operate its waste disposal wells.

Neither Novus‘ plant nor its wells have been built yet.

Tuesday, Jeff Klopfenstein, the president of that side of Novus’ business, wrote in an emailed statement to the Victoria Advocate, “Once constructed, Novus will take full responsibility for the operational performance of its wells... . Novus is committed to working with its partners to ensure full compliance and top-level performance.”

Years ago, the county planned to open a park at Green Lake, which the Texas State Historical Association identified as the largest freshwater lake in the state.

The area remains closed to the public though. Ineos Nitriles makes the key ingredient in acrylic fiber.

According to its website, it has a turnover of $1.5 billion annually and started operating in Calhoun County in 1981. Wednesday, TCEQ commissioners assessed a total of $480,719 in fines. Janice Hernandez, the coordinator for the state agencies’ litigation division, said $28,857 of that amount was deferred while another $165,628 was applied to environmental projects.

The Advocate made a Texas Public Information Act request to learn how many violations related to waste disposal wells there were each year for the past three years, but did not receive a reply by deadline. The TCEQ must reply promptly to such a request. It has 10 business days to ask the Texas Attorney General if it can withhold the information.


This story was changed on Jan. 31, 2018, to reflect that a pH of 0 is the most acidic. 

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest has done a little bit of everything since moving to Victoria in 2012. She was a regular fixture in the Crossroads’ historic courthouses, but now slathers on the sunscreen to report on the environment.

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