LSGCD to court: Waste injection well a threat to groundwater

CONROE, TX – Feb. 19, 2016 – In an effort to overturn a decision which would allow TexCom Gulf Disposal, LLC to operate a Class 1 waste injection well in Montgomery County, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District filed an amicus brief with Travis County’s 345th District Court Wednesday.

An ongoing lawsuit against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, filed by multiple plaintiffs, including Montgomery County, the City of Conroe and a private oil and gas company, is awaiting the court’s final ruling.

“This is a very serious matter,” said LSGCD President Richard J. Tramm. “Our Board is committed to continuing to protect Montgomery County’s drinking water.”

The Railroad Commission had previously determined that waste injection activities from the site would likely migrate upward to overlying geologic formations and even to the land surface because of the high pressures that will occur underground with the addition of the waste—causing harm to oil and gas resources. LSGCD’s legal brief argued, by the same reasoning, such upward migration could pose a danger to overlying fresh groundwater resources.

“The judge heard arguments from both sides Thursday on motions for a summary judgment to overturn the TCEQ’s decision to issue the waste permits on grounds that they failed to properly consider the Railroad Commission’s determination of harm to natural resources in the matter,” said Kathy Turner Jones, LSGCD’s general manager. “As a matter of law, TCEQ was therefore not legally authorized to issue the permits.”

State District Judge Tim Sulak, who is presiding over the case, took the matter under advisement yesterday afternoon at the conclusion of the hearing. 

The plaintiffs have sued the TCEQ on multiple grounds, including an allegation that the TCEQ commissioners overturned or ignored many of the findings of fact made by the Administrative Law Judges assigned by the State Office of Administrative Hearings to conduct the contested hearing on the permit application on TCEQ’s behalf.

“The ALJs determined that TexCom did not prove that the waste injection activities would protect groundwater and surface water resources in Montgomery County,” Jones said.

The waste injection well site is located in the City of Conroe off FM 3083.

Gregg Hope, LSGCD board member appointed by Montgomery County, reaffirmed Tramm’s sentiments.

“The District has heard the concerns of the citizens,” Hope said. “We hope the court will make the right decision.”