Illegal Oil Dumping Causing Problems: Oil & Gas Companies Causing Safety Hazards in Ector County, Texas
In recent years, Ector County, in the Permian Basin of West Texas, has become one of the most prolific oil producing counties in the state. But while the economic aspects of the oil and gas boom in Texas are making life better in many ways, there are side effects that could cause problems for many communities down the road.
One of the main problems with oil production has to do with waste disposal. Texas law requires that waste-water from drilling operations only be taken to a state-permitted disposal site. But the sites charge fees in the hundreds of dollars per load, and they are often far away from the drilling site, which costs them even more time and money. So, many of the oil producers working there are spilling and dumping a lot of crude oil and drilling wastewater where they shouldn’t, because they’re looking for a way to dispose of the fluids that’s cheap, quick and dirty, literally.
Among the techniques these haulers use to get rid of waste include overfilling trucks, which causes the wastewater to slosh out of the truck onto the highway. They also look for relatively remote locations along the road to dump the entire contents of the truck. Some tanker drivers are so devious, they’ve installed remote controlled valves on their trucks, to “leak” their loads onto the roadway. In some areas, this type of dumping has left the county with miles of highway containing a slippery coating that has caused several traffic accidents, although no injuries, yet.
The problem is bad, so county officials are working to devise ways to catch and prosecute those responsible for the pollution. They’ve hired an environmental enforcement officer full time, and paid a couple of sheriff’s deputies to work part-time to try to alleviate the situation. The county has also hired an attorney to file lawsuits against offenders. With the increased enforcement, criminal fines and civil penalties are piling up, and they are taking a lot of these drivers off the road. But in many cases, the damage is done.
Such dumping can have serious negative health and environmental consequences for landowners, including seepage into groundwater and destruction of formerly agriculturally rich soil.
As of now, all of the negative health consequences are not known, because not all dumping locations have been identified. But if you or a loved one have been injured due to negligence in one of the communities affected by the West Texas Permian Basin oil boom, contact a lawyer with experience handling these types of claims. The Texas Oilfield Injury Attorneys at Hill Law Firm are here to discuss your legal rights. Call us today!