Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tale of Two Tanks part 1

Less than 1/4 mile from our house stands two oil tanks.

A local energy company owns the mineral rights on this land and has for many, many years although I just heard through the grapevine they have sold to a larger company. I also heard said that with their technology they can drill sideways into the ground and make the wells in this area as productive as they were thirty years ago and in the process making lots of money for the landowners (and I might add, least of all the company).

We seldom travel our road in an easterly direction past those tanks, but on Tuesday afternoon of last week we decided to do just that as we headed over my our niece's house. As we passed the ugly blue tanks Coop and I both noticed that the ground had been freshly dug and piled higher than normal around the pit. This pit exists in case of a spill when draining the tanks and to contain the accidental release of toxic liquids such as brine, oil or a mixture of the two.

Anyhow...we didn't think too terribly much about it and kept on driving. On Saturday we learned from our neighbor M that the energy company employee had definitely had a spill of said brine the week before at the tanks and obviously a pretty hefty spill. M said he had spoken with the employee and threatened to call the EPA about it. The employee urged him not to and reassured they'd get it cleaned up.

On that same Saturday after learning of the situation, out of concern and curiosity I decided to take a walk to the site with camera in hand.

I climbed up on the mound of dirt to get a look at the pit. I knew the liquid in the pit is rain water because we'd had heavy rain just prior and any brine would by now have been absorbed into the ground...somewhere.

I took a walk behind the tanks and saw this nifty little drain tube sticking out of the ground from the pit wall...hmmm

And I saw this. (The area to the far right edge of pic is where that orange drain pipe is.)

This last pic is to give you an overall idea of the distance from the tanks the trench had been dug.

Obviously the spill was substantial or why else would they have stuck that drain tube into the wall of the pit and dug this trench? I estimate the trench was about 100' in length. Fortunately they blocked it at that distance preventing anything traveling further west. Beyond there lay the woods and the creek bed. If poisonous brine was drained out of that pit and had made its way to the creek it would have been disastrous.

I spoke with the land owner that same day and relayed my feelings about the oil company's disregard for the environment and the private property of others. I also told him rather matter of factly that if he didn't want to call the EPA I would. He shook his head affirmatively, letting me know it was literally my call.

to be continued...

1 comment:

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