Are the Texas Railroad Commissioners protecting XTO at the expense of citizens?
A NEWSCHANNEL 5 investigation. LINK
Hundreds of McAllen families are sitting on top of a highly toxic, highly explosive substance. The toxic substance is floating on top of groundwater under 23rd Street. NEWSCHANNEL 5 took a sample from the ground. With one spark, it went up in flames.
For at least 16 years state agencies have known about the toxic, highly explosive, underground lake called a plume but they have done nothing to protect citizens.
An internal document from the Texas Railroad Commission shows McAllen city workers reported fuel fumes in the sewers. It also says workers noticed natural gas odors while laying a water line.
The 33 acre area of contamination in McAllen, Texas is one of the largest environmental disaster areas in the United States.
In 1992, the same toxic, highly explosive substance triggered a series of explosions in Guadalajara, Mexico resulting in:
Benzene, the highly toxic, cancer causing chemical is also in the soil and groundwater. According to Scott McClain, a lawyer who is representing McAllen residents, Benzene fumes can migrate from the soil into people’s homes and cause leukemia.
Nuvia Garcia was diagnosed with leukemia when she was two and she died when she was six. Another girl in the area also got leukemia and survived.
No one knows for sure where the pollution came from but there are three possible sources:
One is spilled fuel. For decades, diesel and gasoline spilled from the trains on tracks owned by Union Pacific. According to the state, the company admits they’re partially at fault.
Gas stations is a second possible source. Leaking underground fuel tanks at the old Coastal Mart on 23rd Street caused the 37,000 gallon plume. Cleanup of the coastal mart mess took 14 years and cost one million dollars.
Leaking pipelines is another possible source.
Videos from 2004 show green testing liquid “just squirts out” [of the pipeline]. One part of the pipeline was patched with wrapping tape.
The gas company’s own documents from 1989 show “leaks” in the “McAllen area” and “contaminated soil,” potentially causing “real problems.”
The Texas Railroad Commission is responsible for pollution from pipeline. However, in the all too familiar response, the Railroad Commission would not comment and refused to be interviewed.
The Railroad Commission turned down our request for an interview. They did give us this report from pipeline owner, XTO Energy. The company says none of the pollution comes from their pipelines.
Well of course not! Isn’t it interesting how, when oil and gas pollution turns up, the oil and gas companies are never responsible.
Are you catching on yet?
Are you paying attention Fort Worth?
Those were the same pipelines shown leaking in a 2004 video. XTO’s explanation seems to be good enough for the state. An e-mail to NEWSCHANNEL 5 states the Texas Railroad Commission doesn’t plan to pursue further investigation. The case is closed.
TECQ was slightly more responsive and Union Pacific has already agreed to help with the clean up.
Because of the NEWSCHANNEL 5 investigation, the Texas Railroad Commission is re-opening its case. Isn’t it interesting how the Texas Railroad Commissioners never seem to hold oil and gas responsible until they are painted into a corner?
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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Great. There is a Union Pacific switching yard in Chico on Sherman. Often there is a Suncoast tanker truck filling the tanks of the locomotives. Good to know UP is careful with fueling their equipment.
Menopausal Mick says
The same pollution has happened in San Antonio. Benzene and other toxic chemicals designed to de-grease engines have been found in the groundwater and surrounding neighborhood lands near Kelly AFB.
It made the news for quite a while and then it’s as if everyone gave up on getting the cleanup completed.
At the time, the number of cancer deaths and ALS (rare Lou Gehrig’s disease) cases was astounding. Most cases came from employess working at two buildings on Kelly.
The solvents used in degreasing airplane engines were regularly dumped into drums. When the drums filled, they often emptied them right onto the ground. This practice started around WWll and continued until recent news coverage of the problem.
It’s the very large elephant in the living room for San Antonio. It’s rarely spoken about and the illnesses are still occuring in the neighborhoods near Kelly. They say the contaminating plume doesn’t get into the aquifer or SAWS.
Okay…but I don’t drink San Antonio tap water anyway.
Good luck to the citizens of McAllen. I doubt the government will do anything that really addresses the problem.