SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - New developments on the proposed waste disposal facility in San Augustine County. Hearings for the necessary permit to dispose of oil and gas waste begin Tuesday morning in Austin before the Texas Railroad Commission. They are scheduled for a three week period.
San Augustine County resident Ann Bridges will follow the zoom proceedings from her laptop.
For years Bridges lived in Pasadena, just miles from oil and gas refineries.
Shortly after retiring to the country, she discovered her house may literally face an above ground oil and gas waste disposal facility.
Her concern is “the possibility of the soil being contaminated. Our water could be contaminated.”
PA Prospect, a Montana company, is applying for a permit pursuant to water protection to operate a stationary treatment facility for oil and gas waste. The company owns three properties in the vicinity of State Highway 103 near Bronson. One sets across the county road where Bridges lives.
“PA Prospect will go first and our side will go after them. Even after the hearing we won’t know. It will be six months to a year before they make a decision,” said Bridges.
Bridges will be tuned into the zoom meeting from day 1. Each day building her own case against the project.
“We’ll be looking at a mountain of waste. It could go to equivalent to 12 story building in front of us,” said Bridges of her worst fear.
Bridges will testify before the Railroad Commission. She’s hired an attorney, as well.
She joins about 700 opponents concerned about wider implications.
Angelina and Neches River Authority maps clearly show the close proximity the proposed disposal site is to numerous East Texas waterways.
“Ayish Bayou is that eastern tributary to Lake Sam Rayburn, one of two major waterways leading to the lake,” said Amanda Haralson, director of Friends of Lake Sam Rayburn.
Haralson, and others, are set to testify in behalf of the citizens group.
-”I think we have such conviction of the importance of protecting this immediate area and the area beyond. This region of East Texas is in peril over this.”
Jay Stewart, an an attorney representing PA Prospect stated, in part, to the East Texas News,
“A license must ensure that the facility is designed and constructed with state-of-the-art and robust engineering features (including multiple liner systems and leachate detection and collection systems) so that surface and subsurface water is not endangered.”
Opponents aren’t easily convinced.
“Accidents happen. We know that it will happen,” said Bridges. “It’s just a matter of when. It’s not if. It’s going to be when.”
The wait for an answer will be long for both sides. The hearings begin tomorrow at nine.
Numerous San Augustine County residents and political leaders testified in opposition at a December pre-hearing. According to Bridges all that they said is on record, so they won’t be speaking again. Among those on the Railroad Commission is Wayne Christian, from neighboring Shelby County.
PA Prospect Jay Stewart’s entire response.
“The purpose of the administrative hearing is to ensure that site, design, construction and operation of the proposed facility in San Augustine County meets all regulatory standards required by the regulating state agency, the Railroad Commission of Texas. A license must ensure that the facility is designed and constructed with state-of-the-art and robust engineering features (including multiple liner systems and leachate detection and collection systems) so that surface and subsurface water is not endangered. The Railroad Commission licenses these types of oil-and-gas-waste-only facilities that handle the oil and gas industry’s liquid and solid wastes (primarily produced salt water, and drill cuttings which are mostly soil) across the state of Texas.”
To watch the hearing register by calling the Texas Railroad Commission for the link. https://www.rrc.state.tx.us/hearings/contact-hearings/