Proposed Site for Oil-Field Waste Site Causing Controversy

A Montague County community is outraged over a proposed site for an oil-field waste disposal facility.

It would be in St. Jo and residents fear that it could contaminate their source of drinking water, a nearby aquifer.

The mayor opposes the site of the project, but the developer says it's a no brainer -- adding the spot off of Highway 59 is perfect for such a facility, but ultimately the decision isn't up to them.

The Mayor of St. Jo Tom Weger speaks on behalf of most residents when he says, "We could have a potential disaster."

The disaster he's talking about is contaminated city water.  The potential cause would be from Fenco Contractors.  It's a group that wants to build an oil-waste site within three miles of the city on sensitive grounds, where a leak could get into the Trinity Aquifer.
"The waste is being created and disposed in Montague County, the way it's disposed I feel is very detrimental to our natural resources," said Darren Fenoglio with Fenco Contractors Group.

He says the company will build a state of the art oil-field waste facility, one that wouldn't dump waste on the ground like others, but would instead seal it off.

"The facility will have all kinds of protection, double lined membranes, multiple monitoring and ground water protection, leak protection," said Fenoglio.

That still doesn't sit well with Weger who says the city understands the need for such a facility, but not the place.

"If this facility was not being built over the Antler Sand, if it was not in the recharge zone of the Trinity Aquifer, which we depend on for our ground water, the City of St. Jo would not be in opposition," said Weger.

He's also concerned about the potential for high amounts of chlorides and traffic that would head to the area.  But Fenco is trying to ease worries, saying traffic will not be bothersome and there won't be high amounts of chlorides.

Still, if contamination does occur, potentially tens of thousands of residents could be affected and harmed by the water.

"We will continue to fight until we exhaust all means available to us," said Weger.

Fenco has already tried for the permit twice before but was denied for many reasons.  They will try again in late October.  That's when both sides will present their case before the Railroad Commission of Texas.  The commission will have the final say.

Mayor Weger also says citizens of the community are actually donating money towards a fund to help offset the cost the city has to pay for lawyers to defend them.