On Friday, August 17, several individuals from this area made the trip to Austin to attend the hearing for the Infinity Oil and Gas Golightly waste disposal well just South of Clairette. Three of us presented evidence and asked questions of the Infinity representatives. It was pretty scary, facing a courtroom type situation at the Railroad Commission with no attorney. But lucky for us, they didn’t bring a lawyer either so we were on even ground. The Infinity VP of Operations and a staff geologist were all that showed up for their side. Our side consisted of myself, Wes Biglin, Dale Henry (candidate for Railroad Commissioner in 2008), and Joe Cooper of the MTGCD. The ECCCW had withdrawn their protests due to a water monitoring agreement, and asked everyone to withdraw, but some of us still had concerns, felt the protest should continue and voices should be heard, so there we were.

Infinity was, by their own admission, ill prepared and the hearing examiners came down pretty hard on them. They gave their case, such as it was. They were really hoping the water monitoring plan they’d agreed to would cinch the permit. We were there to point out that many of the citizens of Erath County are opposed to this type of well in our groundwater. We found that Infinity had no map of the proposed monitoring wells, did not have written agreements for entrance to those peoples’ property, and in fact, only three wells were to be monitored and only one wasn’t on the Golightly land. Joe Cooper and I hammered in the point that the monitoring agreement must be part of the permit if the well is approved. I got the geologist to admit that the hole they drill would create a passage for things to move where they shouldn’t be.

I asked, “Why do you want this disposal well when you already have one 8 miles away?”

Economics. They want this disposal well near the Bosque River, just South of old load zoned bridges, and flushing their wastewater through our aquifer so they can save a few bucks! Mr. Henry asked some technical questions, but he didn’t agree with most of their answers. Wes asked them if they used the silica sand OSHA says is a carcinogen that was causing the problems up near Bluff Dale? Their answer was yes, but all that sand stays down in the well bore, none of it comes out with the waste water. We laughed. He also asked, “What would you do if contamination is found, what remediation would take place?” The answer was “I don’t know”. Doesn’t that make you feel good? If they contaminate your water, they don’t have a plan to fix it. They can just pack up, go back to Colorado and forget about the local folks whose lives and land have been hurt.

Quite honestly, I think we kicked their big oil company behinds, and that we have a good chance of winning this case. I write this to show that regular people can make a difference, there is hope to do some good, and it’s not ok to give up the fight. We HAVE to keep these injection wells out of our area to protect our water, our land, and our children. By making this effort to fight this disposal well, we believe we did just that.

Elaine Smith