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Karnes City Council voices opposition to injection wells located near city
by Joe Baker
Jan 20, 2014 | 63 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KARNES CITY – The Karnes City Council took a stand against the drilling and operation of injection wells, sometimes referred to as saltwater disposal facilities, inside the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) during a special meeting on Jan. 9.

According to information from the Texas Railroad Commission, these facilities are used throughout the state because oil and gas reservoirs are found in porous rock formations that also usually contain significant amounts of saltwater.

In Texas, the saltwater produced with oil and gas (sometimes referred to as produced water), as well as hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid (if a well undergoes hydraulic fracturing stimulation treatment), must be disposed of in a manner that will not cause or allow the potential for pollution of surface or subsurface waters.

Cheryl Moy spoke to the council about Supreme Vacuum Services’ plans to locate an injection well on U.S. Highway 181 near the Red Ewald Inc. fiberglass plant.

The location is to the south of Karnes City, outside the city limits but inside the city’s ETJ.

A hearing has been set for Jan. 17 in Austin before the Railroad Commission who will consider whether or not to issue the permit needed for the project to move forward.

“We are all in agreement that we want development,” Moy said. “We want responsible development, but we have to look at what is in the best interest of the citizens of this county and this city.”

Moy said such an operation located in such a congested area, is not only a threat to current development, but also the future development of Karnes City.

The permit would allow for 25,000 barrels of waste per day to be disposed of at the site, Moy said.

Moy said she and others are opposed to the well, as are several energy companies who see the facility as a threat to an active area of oil and gas production.

Currently, state law does not allow cities to pass ordinances prohibiting these types of facilities within their ETJs.

Moy invited council members to attend the hearing to help show opposition to the well.

Council Member Sherry Sommer said that she supported going on record, as a council, as being opposed to the construction of any of these types of facilities in the city’s ETJ.

“We need to protect our ETJ,” Sommer said. “It is going to continue to come up.”

Council Member Lillian Lyssy said that she feels the same way.

“We really don’t want something like that in our ETJ,” Lyssy said. “We need to grow.”

Belinda Pace, a local resident who lives in the Karnes City area and has expertise in the area of audits and compliance for these types of facilities, talked about the recent explosion at a Karnes County injection well facility and what a big mess these explosions leave behind.

“The property around that facility will be contaminated,” Pace said, regarding what would happen in the event of an explosion or other type of accident.

“I don’t see where people buy property for residences or for nice restaurants that want to be right beside a saltwater disposal,” Pace said. “Our family has always chosen to put them way outside the city limits.”

Moy told the council that representatives of Otto Kaiser Memorial Hospital have also expressed opposition to the construction of this facility. The hospital, Moy said, is concerned that the public won’t have access to the hospital in the event of an explosion or other type of accident.

Council Member Jimmy Loya said that the council needs to consider that Premier Vacuum Service, another local company that disposes oilfield waste, might at some point also seek to place such a disposal facility in areas near the city.

Loya compared the situation to the city’s current way of disposing of trash.

“Yes, we create all the garbage,” Loya said regarding active oil and gas wells in the area. “But we don’t want to dump it right in town. We want the oil companies to come in and drill, but that waste has to go somewhere. We don’t want it inside our city.”

Council Member Raymond Robinson said he thought each well should be considered on a case-by-case basis because he is not opposed to these wells in undeveloped areas of the city’s ETJ.

Sommer responded to Robinson’s comment saying that allowing such wells to operate in these undeveloped areas might also prevent developers from building homes in these same areas in the future.

Sommer made a motion to oppose any injection well in the city’s ETJ and protest any application for a permit. Loya seconded the motion and the council voted unanimously in favor of Sommer’s motion.

City Manager Don Tymrak said he would work on a resolution that state’s the city’s position accordingly and he will bring it before the council for consideration at a future date.
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