Intent of suit filed for water contamination

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Protection group sues Kinder Morgan after spill in Blanco County

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A water protection group intends to sue pipeline company Kinder Morgan and Permian Highway Pipeline LLC over alleged water contamination in Blanco County.

Lawsuit

The intent of suit filed by attorneys for the Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) came on April 8, 11 days after what Kinder Morgan officials called a “drilling fluid loss” that occurred during construction of the Permian Highway Pipeline on March 28. The incident spilled 36,000 gallons of drilling mud that included a potentially cancer-causing substance called AMC GEL, according to an article by the Austin-American Statesman.

AMC GEL, according to acmmud.com, is a modified bentonite that can contribute to fluid loss control.

In a notice issued by TESPA on April 8, a material classified as a class 1A carcinogen on the Material Safety Data Sheet was in the drilling mud that contaminated the aquifer and the water supply for Blanco-area homeowners. TESPA is evaluating the risks this carcinogen poses.

The notice from TESPA states that Kinder Morgan might have:

• Violated the Safe Drinking Water Act by injecting fluids into an underground source of drinking water;

• Created an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act;

• Discharged pollutants in violation of the nationwide permit No. 12 issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;

• Discharged pollutants into waters of the United States without a permit.

TESPA states these acts have citizen suit provisions, but require an advance notice of intent to sue so that jurisdiction in the federal court system is established.

Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) is joining TESPA under a memorandum of agreement to pursue this legal action.

Local concern

Gillespie County Precinct 4 Commissioner Donnie Schuch was displeased with recent events, calling the mishap “quite disturbing” and “irresponsible.”

“We have limited authority (against Kinder Morgan) on a county level, but I hope they’re held accountable by groups like the Texas Railroad Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency,” Schuch said. “We can’t allow these folks to contaminate our water supply.”

Schuch said the county is monitoring what happened in Blanco County and the resulting lawsuit closely.

“This is just inexcusable. It’s kind of scary, just like everything else these days,” Schuch said.