|San Jacinto News Times - Local News
Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company
Shepherd residents concerned about oil, gas discharge in area
SHEPHERD – About 20 Cherry Creek residents told San Jacinto County Commissioners’ Court last week that oil and gas production in their subdivision is making them sick and contaminating their property and asked for help in getting the situation cleaned up. “We are having health and animal issues. We need the county to step in and help us,” Cherry Creek resident Connie Dean told the court. “We’re already damaged but I don’t want my grandkids to go through this.” Dean said they’ve tried to get help from the Texas Railroad Commission, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and state and U.S. representatives as well as Famcor Oil who they say is making them sick. “It’s hard to understand why government hasn’t helped,” she said. According to subdivision residents, gases are being discharged from Famcor’s operations that are as close as 400 feet from some homes and the noise levels are terrible at times. Some said their trees and pine trees are dying. “I’ve already had three different kinds of cancer,” one woman said. “The bottom line is they’re killing me.” The residents claim that nothing is regulated and benzene and other gases have been released on them for years, poisoning their creeks, land and water supply and giving them cancer related illnesses. SUIT FILED On Aug. 6, Cleveland attorney James Manley filed a suit on behalf of Robyn Bourelle against Famcor Oil suing for damages due because of wrongful conduct of the oil company. Famcor is among the onehundredth largest natural gas producers in the State of Texas and the single largest oil and gas producer in San Jacinto County. According to the suit, Famcor is in the business of locating oil and gas reservoirs in sufficient quantities. The Ogle Tree Number 1 site is adjacent to Bourelle’s home and is a gathering site for other wells in the area. Shepherd Central Tank Battery is located on this site, according to the suit. “This compressor station, with a dehydration unit and vapor recovery unit, is a collection of equipment used to separate, treat, store and transfer crude oil, natural gas condensate, or some combination of these extracted products,” the suit states. “The facility is an unmanned facility that runs 24/7 all year, except for planned or unexpected shut downs. The operation of this facility emits noxious and loud noises.” Bourelle purchased her home at 401 Richards Road, around 1999. Around 2005, Famcor installed the natural gas compressor station next to her home. “Famcor’s operation of its compressor/separation facilities and its oil and gas wells have resulted in air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination and noise pollution that have harmed and injured Bourelle and others living in close proximity to the facilities,” the suit states. The suit charges that Famcor has placed and stored toxic waste products in unlined pits close to Bourelle’s property; improperly disposed of hazardous chemicals and other waste; allowed emission of airborne contaminants; failed to warn Bourelle and others of potential dangers associated with its oil and gas operations; failed to select and properly supervise technically and financially capable persons or firms to transport, store and dispose of dangerous, hazardous and toxic substances and wastes associated with its operations; failed to provide clear warnings of the dangers associated with the use of hazardous and toxic substances and chemicals at its site; is discharging noxious, dangerous and toxic vapors and gases into the air on a frequent basis; is discharging contaminated water from its facility onto Bourelle’s property and surrounding properties near the compressor station; has failed to have waste processing areas protected against seepage and/or overflow and damage; failed to have proper vapor recovery system; failed to create a proper buffer zone around its facility taking into account the adjoining land use; failed to investigate the hydrological zones of its site and adjoining properties. Failed to properly monitor its air emissions at its facilities; failed to contain dangerous, hazardous and toxic substances and wastes within the boundaries of Shepherd central tank battery and failed to promptly report its emissions of toxic gases and substances to the appropriate governmental agencies and to the humans residing near the site. The suit accuses Famcor of releasing hydrocargons, nitrogen oxide, BTEX, H2S, Methane and other harmful gases and chemicals into the environment and onto Bourelle’s property and other properties in the neighborhood. Bourelle is seeking to recover the cost of restoring her property, including ground water, to its condition prior to Famcor’s oil and gas operations. Bourelle is also suing for the actual and sentimental value of her horses, dogs and cats and for the expenses of medical care for her horses. On September 18, Famcor Oil filed and answer to Bourelle’s suit, denying all allegations. Both Bourelle and Famcor Oil is seeking jury trial on all issues. Famcor excludes any claim for punitive/exemplary damages. On Oct. 5, about 21 Cherry Creek residents joined Bourelle as intervenors in the suit against Famcor, alleging “negligence and gross negligence” against the oil company.