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Public Health Watch: For Texans, fighting state-regulated oilfield waste dumps can be a costly, do-it-yourself effort

2 min read

Some Texans who challenge oil-and-gas waste sites must spend significant sums and time on investigating what they say the Texas Railroad Commission should examine, reports Jason Buch for Public Health Watch. Will new regulations for handling waste increase oversight or just maintain the status quo?

In a nutshell:

Less than a year after the establishment of an oilfield waste disposal site near Tara Jones’ home in Orange Grove, Texas, in 2019, a persistent foul odor ensued. Despite numerous complaints from her neighbors, the stench persisted, leading Jones to conduct her own investigation into Blackhorn Environmental Services' activities. Jones' ordeal illustrates the challenges faced by communities dealing with waste disposal sites as regulators' response often requires the efforts of affected individuals to prompt actions. Critics are urging reforms to the Railroad Commission's waste disposal regulations, accusing the agency of inadequate oversight and potential conflicts of interest. They highlight the need for more stringent rules to protect public health and the environment in the face of growing waste disposal demands.

Key quote:

In August 2020, a TCEQ investigator responding to complaints “immediately felt nauseous [from the odor] and had to leave the area promptly,” according to court filings.

The big picture:

Advocacy groups, residents and lawmakers have criticized the Texas Railroad Commission for years, claiming lax pollution oversight and a "too-cozy" relationship with industry, Buch reports.

The noxious emissions and odors from oilfield waste sites can lead to a range of health issues, including respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Prolonged exposure to these pollutants can also exacerbate preexisting conditions and contribute to a decline in overall well-being. As a result, communities near these facilities often express concerns about the potential impact on their health and the need for stronger regulations to mitigate these risks.

Learn more at Public Health Watch.

Exposure to oil and gas drilling waste has been linked to numerous health impacts, including cancer, Kristina Marusic recently reported for EHN.

About the author(s):

EHN Staff

Articles written and posted by staff at Environmental Health News

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