UPDATE: the landfarm is operated by XTO and is NOT the Cherry Pit. I am editing the video. My sincere apologies to the owner of the Cherry Pit.
What are the chances that an industry in charge of conducting its own testing to determine waste disposal methods will find toxin levels too high if that means disposal of the waste will be more costly? Not likely… As a recent study in Arkansas revealed, industry takes shortcuts and water and soil gets contaminated. Yet, when it comes to protecting vital Texas resources—soil, water and air—drillers say, “Trust us” and our regulating agency ignores negligence and enables illegal activities. In almost every aspect of waste handling, this industry, with its long history of reckless disregard for public health and safety, is in charge of regulating itself—the fox guarding the hen house.
Hundreds of times I’ve marveled at the patchwork of the blackland fields when driving through Itasca on I-35. I wonder how the farmers know which way to plow the furrows, when to go straight and when to make their rows follow Mother Earth’s fertile curvature. Is that something they learn in AG classes or a secret passed down in farming families? Whatever it is, it’s remarkable and beautiful to see the crops display their various colors and textures in the fields where our food and the food our food eats grows.
”These drilling fluids are black, like oil, smell, and are delivered by trucks with Hazardous Waste Permit Numbers.”
Until recently, I tried to ignore landfarms. I knew they existed, but there’s only so much I can take on a daily basis. Dick Ross forced me to pay attention. I give you the Cherry Pit #1 a Landfarm operated by XTO and a story of arrogance and blatant endangerment of public health and safety:
It‘s no big surprise but this appears to prove the Texas Railroad Commission enables industry to cheat the system. Rather than requiring a Commercial Permit they allowed XTO to divide up the 100 acre landfarm into continuous small sections and permitted each of those small sections under a Minor Permit.
Mr. O’Quinn stated in a email to me, “it possibly should have been a Commercial Site”.
They also allow landfarm operators to do their own testing and don’t even require the results of those tests. When it’s discovered that the required daily tests don’t exist, the regulators just shrug their shoulders in indifference.
There is a Landfarm located on FM 934, outside of Itasca, Tx that is a questionable operation. I’ve tried to get a copy of the Landfarm permit from the region 5 service office but was told that they did not have to give that information! I spoke to the asst director, Mr. Mike Vanderworth [Asst. Director TRC, Region 5&6]. He said they were in compliance and did not care what I had to say. I then spoke to Charlie Ross in Austin at the Texas Railroad Commission. He said he would check into it, but I have not heard back. I’m requesting an onsite inspection which included a water sample from water being dumped and mud samples. I want to make sure that there is no NORM radiation or Benzene etc. They are dumping a lot at night.
Also, as an adjacent land owner I was never notified of a application for permit hearing. Mr. Vanderworth said they didn’t have to notify me or the other adjacent land owners.
Statewide Rule 8 states: ” The applicant must provide a signed statement with the application that the surface owner and offset operators have been notified. The statement must indicate
the date the notice was mailed or delivered and list the names and addresses of the persons notified. To allow opportunity for protest or inquiry, and application will not be approved sooner than 15 days after receipt by the District Office of the application and signed notice statement.”
Dick Ross, Itasca, TX
Ross made a Freedom of Information request in an effort to determine the level of toxins being dumped near his front door and why proper procedures were not followed.
I’m requesting all information on permits, testing of sites for water, air, soil contamination.
1. Copy of the Minor Permit notification to adjacent land owners notice of hearing showing my name and address and when I was notified.
2. Copy of the Minor Permit renewal permit, since these permits are good for 1 year. First permit should have been issued in 2008.
3. Copies of all Hazard Waste haulers permits, of trucking companies delivering to the site.
4. Copies of all permits to XTO Energy who is generating the Hazardous waste.
I’m requesting this information under the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT.
And what did he receive:
The TRRC sent me copies of the Off lease Landfarming permits for XTO and the permits for only 2 of the trucking co.’s. They said they did not have the other information! I’M REQUESTING COPIES OF ALL DOCUMENTS LIST UNDER CONDITIONS OF PERMIT ISSUANCE!
PERMIT # 05-3416, JOB # 2009-930
I asked for ALL TESTS ON ALL 30 CELLS!! I only received Cell #7- Old Geiser.
Per XTO’s permit, they are required to test daily and keep records of those tests or lose their permit (see picture from XTO permit below, click to enlarge) but according to the following email, it seems the the Texas Railroad Commission is not enforcing the terms of the permit.
Cc: “Debra Ravel”
Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 12:50 PM
Subject: Response to Pubic Information Request filed by E-mail on4/25/09; Tests on all Cells; Instructions to Interpret MudProperties Summary
Dear Mr. Ross:
This e-mail is in response to the above-referenced Public Information (Open Records) Request (which appears below). In your e-mail, you request “all tests on all 30 cells.” As stated in response to your previous request for this information (please refer my e-mail to you dated 4/3/09; and the letter e-mailed to you from Debra Ravel on 5/7/09), the Railroad Commission of Texas (the Commission) has no
existing, available information in response to this request. According to staff, these tests must be performed by the operator on a daily basis but the test results are retained by the operator, not the Commission, and are made available to the Commission for inspection or copying only upon request. Our understanding is that, to date, Kilgore District Office staff has not requested any additional testing information on the remaining cells in connection with any Commission business.
Mr. Ross sent formal complaints to XTO and the TRC, EPA and TCEQ with no satisfaction to date.