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Disposal well prompts environmental concerns

Disposal well prompts environmental concerns
Herman Buckley (from left) visits with former La Vernia Mayor Harold Schott, current Mayor Robert Gregory, and Gilbert La Fuente, outreach coordinator with U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s office, prior to the June 29 meeting in La Vernia Chamber of Commerce Hall hosted by the Wilson County Community Values Association.

LA VERNIA Members of the Wilson County Community Values Association continue their efforts to educate area residents and oppose a saltwater disposal injection well located near the city.

The association held its second town hall-style meeting June 29 in the La Vernia Chamber of Commerce Hall on U.S. 87. Approximately 100 attended, including members of the association and volunteers.

Todd Budde, senior team leader of the association, addressed the gathering, advising that the Texas Railroad Commission hearing regarding permitting for the well has been postponed again. Originally set for May 30, then postponed at the request of the well owner Patrick Marable’s company, GeoMeg until July 6, the hearing has again been postponed at GeoMeg’s request until Sept. 6.

The delay hasn’t dimmed the group’s efforts to raise awareness for what the members cite as a danger to the area’s water sources, including the Carrizo and Wilcox aquifers, as well as the Cibolo Creek. Instead, they have intensified efforts to educate the public through meetings and their website,, to highlight their concerns and provide information to anyone interested about disposal of byproducts from hydraulic fracturing known as “fracing” or “fracking” and the approved ways of disposing of the waste from this method of drilling for oil and natural gas in the Eagle Ford shale.

“GeoMeg has proposed to increase the volume and pressure at which it injects up to 15,000 barrels a day or 660,000 gallons,” Budde said. “This is enough chemicals and produced water to completely fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every 24 hours. é Injecting at this volume at a pressure over 1,500 psi has a very tragic effect on the strata. It fractures, creating new paths for the liquids to move into, including upwards movement into strata, such as the Austin Chalk, which is very well known for its fractured structure é It is entirely up to the residents of our community to ensure that the operators of the site are held to the strictest of accountability. é”

Scientists and environmental officials had, until recently, thought they understood how the deep layers of rock beneath the earth behaved, and that injected wastes could be safely disposed of deep beneath the earth’s surface. However, Budde said, quoting from research sources, key experts are now saying these ideas are based on “science that has not kept pace with reality, and on oversight that doesn’t always work é”

“It is absolutely imperative that we take every step possible to stop this instance and any other that endangers our community,” Budde said. “We are looking to our community for support to move forward with our efforts.”

The event drew a number of area residents, public officials, and candidates for public office.

No one at the event spoke in support of the proposed well or disposal methods.

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