Does your local government care?

Posted: July 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

On Thursday, June 28, 2012 a member of Gardap and a visiting journalist spotted the spill in Southfork Odessa from the air while on an aerial tour. The spill looked like oil (later pronounced to be ‘produced’ water). Photos were taken. That same day a copy of an aerial photo and the general location was sent to all of the county commissioners, the county judge and odessa city council members. In addition, most of the local media outlest were notified. The next day, Friday the 29th, a member of Gardap, knowing some of the residents of Southfork, ventured out with them and pinpointed the location of the spill. The TCEQ was first notified by a resident of Southfork. The TCEQ referred them to the TRRC ‘unless it catches on fire’. The TRRC send out a representative who then notified Devon. To date, I, the author of the aforementioned  notiification e-mails, have not heard back from anyone save a single note from the Midland Reporter Telegram asking the specific locaton of the spill (which we did not know at the time). On Friday June 29th CBS7 was notified by myself and offered the story. They quickly moved to cover it. Since then the Odessa American has printed two stories regarding the spill. I suppose the aerial photographic evidence submitted to the county commissioners and the city council of Odessa was not enough to stir their interest. Of course it could be that they simply don’t read their e-mails often.  Idle speculation does not serve any of us well. First, we did not contact the TCEQ or the TRRC until Friday because we did not know where the spill was. Secondly, had we contacted them what would we have said? “There is a spill somewhere south of Odessa.” Gardap is a group of landowners in Gardendale. We don’t live in Southfork and weren’t ‘on a mission to find spills’. We were giving an aerial view of the development of oil and gas to a young, Austin based journalist. We are amateurs! The bigger question is now that your Ector County and Odessa city officials know of this spill and its magnitude (13,000 barrels-200 of which were recovered according to CBS7 and the OA) what do they intend to do to about the water in Southfork? I think the county health department should at least sample the surrounding wells around the spill. It will be a mistake to let Devon be its own policeman. FYI, Gardap does have a sample of the water taken on Friday June 28th being kept in refrigeration. We will  have it analyzed if we cannot obtain sample results from the TRRC and their report on the spill. It is also time to scrutinize the TRRC rules about cleaning up spills. First, collect standing water; Second, mix up the mud with dirt to dry it out. Cover the whole mess up with clean dirt and call it remediated. At this point the oil company can say they followed environmental regulations! Who among landowners living on land believe this is adequate? Oh yes, if the oil company doesn’t do it fast enough they will get a fine. How much is the fine? Several hundred dollars? The truth is that We The People are on our own! Which of your politicians stand up for landowners? For the most part as long as unemployment remains low and money flows into their election coffers they don’t seem to be concerned about much else. The day will come when the water supply of a major city in Texas is  contaminated by inadequate and lax oversight of the oil and gas business but it will be too late!

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