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Nordheim Suffers Damages From Fracking, Residents Oppose Proposed Disposal Pit

17 June 2015No Comments

The small city opitf Nordheim, Texas is located in Dewitt County, situated over the Eagle Ford Shale. This small town has a population of About 315 people and has avoided the oil boom in the area for years. Though oil companies have leased land in this small town, earning residents tiny payments each month, wells have not been drilled in Nordheim. This means that the town has received little profit and all of the side effects of nearby fracking. The town’s roads have been decimated by fracking trucks, residents fear their air and water are polluted, and now the presence of a proposed waste pit for the fracking industry- to be built half a mile from the school- has angered many residents.


Nordheim’s roads have been torn up by oilfield trucks barreling through town night and day. Nordheim’s Mayor Kathy Payne details how one of the main roads, Cabeza Road, was so bad that Nordheim had to pay for caliche to fill in the holes, because the town could not afford asphalt. The town’s residents complained about all the dust the caliche was causing, and eventually the county had to pay for resurfacing. Mayor Payne has refused to sell any of Nordheim’s water to the fracking companies. She says she can’t preserve the water supply because other entities pull from the same aquifer. Payne is now considering the lure of the oil companies in order to repair the town. “It’s hard to see those other towns getting rich,” Payne says. She knows the roads in Nordheim and City Hall need repairing, and that the town needs to attract more business. The answer, she now believes, lies with the oil companies and if oil is found under the town. However, in shale boom areas, potential for profit comes with a cost.

The engineering firm Pyote Reclamation Systems has proposed a disposal well for fracking waste in town that has enraged many Nordheim residents. Initially, the proposal was denied by the Texas Railroad Commission due to concerns of pollution and protesting residents. The current disposition means fracking waste will evaporate from open “uncapped” pits, and allow 1,000 gallons per acre per day to leak from the collection pit, and 100 gallons per acre per day to leak from the trenches. The map of where the disposal pit would be located, shows a site on Hohn Road, a quiet country lane on the outskirts of the town. The pit will be 25 feet deep, with a 4 foot berm around the site. There will be five walls, which will have to be tested once a month. Payne says, “Landowners are worried, but the lining of the pits are as thick as tires. Thirty years from now, when they’re full, it’ll look like a field.” The Nordheim residents opposed to fracking because of environmental concerns think their mayor has turned against them.


Margie Hull and her husband Patrick live across the road from the proposed disposal pit. They have lived in the same house for 30 years and run a real estate business. Margie worries about the chemicals blowing toward the house. She’s concerned about the smell, the health implications for her and Pat, and the danger the truck traffic could impose on their animals. “If they build, I do not want to live here,” she says. Larry Baucum a retired school maintenance manager who co-owns the local mercantile resale shop says, “My own personal opinion, if those pits go in, this town will be dead in five years. Destroyed and a ghost town. You can live with the smell if you get all the money, but you can’t if you get sick all the time.”



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