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Law Enforcements Comes Down on Illegal Oil Dumpers

August 3rd, 2012

Accordingto sources in Jim Wells County, local law enforcement has begun a newinitiative to bring illegal oil field waste haulers to justice. Locals say the law enforcement crackdown isalso helping reduce oily slicks that can cause traffic accidents and poseenvironmental hazards. According topublic reports, 21 people pleaded guilty in June, eight requested atrial, and nine accused illegal dumpers failed to show, prompting County JudgeArnoldo Saenz to issue warrants for their arrest.

Reportedly, Jim Wells County lawenforcement have focused their sights on the numerous cases of illegal dumpingwhich correlates with recent Texas oil and gas boom. The misdemeanor convictions, for chargesincluding disposal of oil field waste on a public road and hauling without apermit, carry fines and court costs ranging from $400 to $800. However, localssay a larger impact is seen on the roads and highways around the county, wherereports of dangerous oily slicks once came at least weekly. Local authorities say the offenses have beenreduced to one or two isolated instances in the span of two of months.

Sources say the slicks and leakytrucks appeared just as quickly as the Eagle Ford Shale drilling boom emergedin South Texas, with companies rushing to tap the vast formation across twodozen counties since the first well was drilled in 2008. Authorities believe that Jim Wells County wasthe focal point of the spills because it is the location of Eco Mud Disposal,one of the few cites in the area permitted to dispose of oil based drillingmud. Sources say trucks may travel morethan 100 miles from the far reaches of the shale formation to reach EcoMud, a second site in Premont, or one in Starr County. Legal authorities say that although thematerial contains diesel oil and heavy metals, federal law doesn't classify itas hazardous waste, and Texas has no rules mandating its transport in closedcontainers. Local officials say that nowword is catching on among truckers that even small leaks won't be tolerated inJim Wells County. Haulers also are being more careful to carry the properpermits and mark their trucks with permit numbers.

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