The Karnes County Sheriff wants to charge On Point Services LLC, a waste hauling company based in Falfurrias, Texas, with several criminal charges for an incident on March 10, in which one of the company’s trucks spilled more than 1,200 gallons of liquid fracking waste along eight miles of rural roadway between Hobson and Falls City. The spill left the road was closed for three days, and the Texas Department of Transportation conducted an enormously expensive cleanup operation.
The company already faces civil charges for the incident. According to a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) notice of violation, On Point failed to contain or even respond to the fracking spill, and it also failed to inform authorities. The notice read, “Due to the apparent seriousness of the alleged violations, formal enforcement action has been initiated, and additional violations may be cited upon further review. … We encourage you to immediately begin taking actions to address the outstanding alleged violations.”
Once the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) and the TCEQ complete their civil cases against the company, the Karnes County Sheriff plans to request that county prosecutors review the case, then hit the company with criminal charges.
The state is in the middle of a massive oil and gas boom. While there are economic advantages, it also creates a lot of problems, not the least of which is how to dispose of the billions of gallons of contaminated waste fluids that are left after fracking. Much of this drilling waste is a potentially hazardous mix of oil, metal shards, toxic chemicals and radioactive materials. Sometimes, it’s carted off to one of a number of sites and injected into disposal wells. In other cases, the wastewater is poured into humongous open pits so that it can evaporate, and other times, it is sprayed on the ground in waste fields. No one know what environmental impact this activity has as yet.
For its part, the TRC plans to sanction On Point for what they claim are violations of water protection laws. According to the TRC’s letter to the company, “(The) transport vehicle was not operated in a manner to prevent spillage or leakage of oil and gas waste during transportation.”
According to a police report, the main reason the company is facing any action at all is because someone supplied the Sheriff’s Department with surveillance video identifying the truck. When the Department was able to prove the On Point truck was responsible for the fracking spill and confronted them, the company blamed the driver, whom the company’s owner described as “not fully competent.” The driver told investigators that his tanker sometimes leaked, and he couldn’t remember if he had checked the valve that night before the spill.
An incident like this brings up a lot of important issues regarding fracking that officials have to examine more closely. If fracking activity is dangerous, Texans need to know, and they have to be assured that state officials are taking proper precautions. In this case, the company and the driver may have put a lot of people in danger with their actions.
If you happen to live near a Texas fracking site, and a member of your household has become sick, and you believe it’s related to exposure to fracking activity, please contact the Texas Oil & Gas Injury Lawyer at Hill Law Firm for a free consultation as soon as possible to protect your rights.