Concerns rise over disposal well

Brian Cuaron

Aug. 1, 2011 at 3:01 a.m.

Non-hazardous waste will be pumped into the ground near city and county residents' water sources.

American Disposal Services has received a permit for a disposal well, which injects waste from oil and gas production 1,500 feet below ground.

A town hall meeting about the disposal well will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at McD Trailers, 16000 Loop 463.

Austin Ivey, manager with the company, said the waste was commonly salt water and drilling mud.

He added the Texas Railroad Commission approved the well. Companies are required to inject the waste below groundwater levels.

Ivey said shale and rock above the injection area prevents waste fluid from reaching the groundwater.

Residents surrounding the site, near Farm-to-Market Road 1685 and Loop 463, use private water wells, said Kevin Janak, Precinct 2. Victoria County commissioner.

The city's water reservoirs are also near the site.

The Guadalupe River is 16 football fields away, Janak said.

"We have concerns about anything that would affect river water quality," Jerry James, environmental services director for Victoria, wrote in an email.

James added that he was looking into the issue.

Ivey said the waste was in steel containers and it is not affected by rainwater.

However, recently the company had a minimal spill at its current site on Laurent Street and Business U.S. Highway 59. Produced water shot in the air toward the highway on July 20, said plant manager Abel Almaguer.

"Accidents occur just like any business," Ivey said.

He said the plant was a 24/7 operation that had a manager on staff at all times.

Also of concern to Janak was American Disposal's water permit request. The permit would allow the company to use about 20 million gallons of water per year to wash out trucks and blend fluids for injection.

"We need the fresh water well to do what we do," Ivey said.

But Janak had a different view.

"That's our precious groundwater."

He wondered what would happen to area residents' water wells.

Also of concern to officials was lack of knowledge about the disposal well. Janak said hardly anyone knew what was going on.

"That's very disturbing," he said.

The city typically gets notice of a permit application, said Lynn Short, director of public works. But Short didn't know the disposal well was approved June 2.

Matt Coppersmith, railroad commission engineer, said the agency wouldn't approve a well without adequate protection.

Area resident Bryan Shook received a form from American Disposal alerting him of the well. It was filled with measurements, and a longitude and latitude location.

Shook said he tried calling the company after getting the form in February. He didn't get a call back.



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