An apparent record number of “protest letters” have been filed with the Railroad Commission of Texas against an application for a permit to inject commercial oil and gas waste about eight miles northwest of Stephenville and two miles south of Huckabay on FM 108.

Elaine Smith, organizer of “Worried About Water” in Erath and Comanche counties, reported Monday that 614 protests were filed with the RRC in opposition to N. Barba Enterprises’ proposal to inject up to 30,000 barrels of oil and gas waste per day at the site.

“The people have spoken,” Smith said. “Waste injection wells are not welcome and do not belong in this area.”

Smith said citizens of the area are “beginning to be more informed about the dangers presented by these waste injection wells and are joining those taking action.”

“I think we should adopt the 80’s power anthem ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ as our theme song and let the ‘powers that be’ know that we are NOT going to take it. We are NOT going to let them run over us. They are NOT going be able to ignore us. And if they want to fight, we’re ready for them.”

While Smith and others remain concerned about the proposed Huckabay site, Nikki Barba, an Erath County resident who is seeking the permit, has said she has done “a lot of research” and that she plans to make sure the saltwater injection site is constructed to the “highest standards possible.”

“I can certainly appreciate … that it must be done up to par,” Barba said during a recent interview. “I don’t want to jeopardize anything, either… Let’s bring it in the right way. Let’s bring it in safely.”

According to a form protest letter used by area residents in opposing the site, an EPA Work Group study, which was completed in October 2004, established that injecting high volumes of waste at high pressure for extended periods of time “could pose a threat to our underground drinking water sources.”

“The proposed location is in a major recharge zone for the Trinity Aquifer that supplies drinking water for Erath County, the city of Stephenville, and several other smaller towns and nearby communities,” the protest letter states.

In addition, the protest letter states, “The amount of heavy tanker truck traffic required to service a well of 30,000 barrels per day is extremely high and will create a dangerous traffic safety issue to several rural communities located near the proposed site.”

Furthermore, the protest letter states, “This ‘commercial’ waste disposal well will have a negative impact on the property values in the area.”

“Due to the potential risk that this oil and gas waste disposal well may have on our underground water supply, property values, and traffic safety, I am requesting that you deny approval of this disposal well permit until these issues can be addressed,” the protest letter concludes.

DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at doug.myers@empiretribune.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.