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Texas residents continue fighting shale waste facility.

Many in the Nordheim community in DeWitt County, TX continue to fight a proposed facility that would accept waste from the Eagle Ford Shale. The site, near the city limits of Nordheim, would take things such as water-and oil-based muds, soil contaminated by oil spills, and drill cuttings, the broken bits of rock and dirt that get drilled through on the way to oil and gas.

The facility continues to move through a permitting process that started with an application to the Texas Railroad Commission last April. A panel of examiners at the Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, held a hearing about the project in September and recently issued its recommendation: approval of San Antonio-based Pyote Reclamation Systems LLC's application.

The final decision will rest with the Railroad Commission's three elected commissioners.

The problem of waste in the Eagle Ford and where to put it all has been a difficult one for communities, some of which have said they are worried that they will get a reputation as being a dumping ground. Drilling in the Eagle Ford generates a lot of water and solid waste that must go somewhere, but no one wants it to end up next to them.

If it weren't for the protests, the facility would have sailed through an administrative approval process with the Railroad Commission staff because it met the agency's technical requirements.

Environmental engineers for Petro Waste Reclamation System Inc. have said the site is close to ideal for this sort of facility--it's covered in a thick layer of clay and is not in an aquifer recharge area. A low-lying part of the 204-acre property is considered a wetland, but that section wouldn't be used as part of the 143-acre disposal facility.

Under the terms of the permit, the facility would not be allowed to affect groundwater or surface water--all water would be contained on site.

Residents protesting the site must poke a technical hole in the application if they want to derail it.

Protesters formed an organization last year--Concerned About Pollution--and hired attorneys, geologists and chemical engineers to help them fight the application process in Austin.

They've gotten support from a variety of places, including the Nordheim Independent School District, which has its campus nearby, the DeWitt County Commissioners Court and state Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, who has argued that the facility is too close to Nordheim and affects too many people.

The experts for Concerned About Pollution dispute that there's a single layer of clay under the site and say the property is a recharge site for the Gulf Coast Aquifer.

But the examiners' opinion said evidence indicates there is a significant clay stratum that would block fluid from migrating into the aquifer. In addition, the evidence that the site is a recharge area is only conceptual.

Source: Jennifer Hiller, San Antonio Express-News

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Publication:Solid Waste Report
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Mar 10, 2015
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