RRC approves permit renewal for disposal waste facility in Orange Grove

Robin Bradshaw
Alice Echo News Journal
Blackhorn Environmental LLC. in Jim Wells County.

 A motion to approve the renewal permit to continue operations for the oil and gas disposal facility Blackhorn Environmental Waste Services LLC. in Orange Grove was passed during Tuesday's Texas Railroad Commissioners (RRC) hearing on April, 13. The permit approval will be for the next five years. 

The decision made after months of neighboring residents, county and state leaders protested the permit. 

Blackhorn Environmental specializes in the handling and disposal of non-hazardous oil and gas waste.The company is regulated through the Texas Railroad Commission and serves the big players in the industry.

Multiple neighbors close to the site have spoken out about foul orders, poor air quality resulting in health issues and safety concerns involving the large truck traffic in regards to weight and speed. The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has cited the facility in recent months with pushback from Blackhorn detesting any issues. Last month, the Jim Wells County Commissioner Court along with State Rep. J.M. Lozano and Senator "Chuy" Hinojosa wrote letters to the RRC expressing opposition and concerns with the renewal permit for Blackhorn LLC. 

The original renewal permit hearing was scheduled in March but was postponed with the final decision reached Tuesday. 

Coastal Bend native and newly elected Republican Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright spoke during the hearing. Wright, the former oil and gas disposal waste facility owner of DeWitt Recyclables, LLC. in Cuero; ironically faced multiple lawsuits regarding environmental violations and was shut down by the Railroad Commission in 2017, according to reports from the Houston Chronicle. 

On February 28, attorney's from Blackhorn Environmental Services stated to AENJ that Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright did not have any partisan interest in Blackhorn's permit renewal.  

"I have reviewed the petition for this permit and the complaints have been taken very seriously especially involving allegations of human health and environment concerns with multiple investigations being conducted. RRC investigators have advised with some recommendations to approve this permit. Although I am very sympathetic with the protesters I am in favor to approve the permit renewal," Wright said. 

"This is my family and I have fought 'tooth and nail' for their health and safety it seems to be more about money and less about people and public safety," Jennifer Green, a protesting neighbor said. "I am heartbroken."

More:Orange Grove neighbors address safety concerns involving Blackhorn Environmental Services LLC.

More:TCEQ investigates Blackhorn Environmental Services in Orange Grove

More:Jim Wells County commissioners oppose permit renewal for waste disposal facility

More:RRC permit renewal hearing for Blackhorn waste disposal facility in Orange Grove postponed