Blackhorn Environmental LLC in Orange Grove won't face fines over waste disposal issues

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

ORANGE GROVE - Blackhorn Environmental Services was released from  a suspended permit by the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) and the waste disposal facility also won't face  any fines or penalties related to a series of violations.

Blackhorn Environmental Services LLC is located on 232 acres near County Road 308 and is a disposal facility that services the oil and gas industry and is permitted and regulated through the RRC. The facility is five miles from the city of Orange Grove and is near about 40 residential homes. 

Nearby residents have long complained about road safety and air quality concerns  and received written support from local and state officials.

Earlier this year, the facility was cited for several potential violations including claims the facility accepted unauthorized waste, improperly disposed of waste and had inconsistent records. 

The facility's permit to operate was suspended over the summer after an audit by the commission related to allegations the facility accepted waste it was not authorized to accept including non-RCRA exempt wastes and wastes from commercial operators without the required testing. 

RCRA is the acronym for the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a federal law that regulates the management of hazardous waste, non-hazardous wastes, medical wastes, and underground storage tanks.

"Although this is not a final order, nor is it addressed to Blackhorn Environmental Services, LLC, Blackhorn welcomes the Railroad Commission’s confirmation that all operations of its facility are in full compliance with permit conditions," said attorney Patricia Canales Bell, who represents Blackhorn." As we continue to operate, Blackhorn Environmental Services, LLC maintains the highest environmental standards and compliance with the laws and regulations mandated by the state of Texas."

The commission's report states that after a review of Blackhorn’s reports from the permitted date in 2014, and from the beginning of operations at the facility in 2019, technical permitting found the facility was in violation of its permit.

However, those violations have been resolved and Blackhorn officials  have demonstrated that they understand their permit requirements and have implemented procedures to prevent future violations, the report states.

"This is a major letdown," said Blackhorn's residential neighbor Tara Jones of the lifted permit suspension. "Blackhorn accepted 644 loads of unpermitted waste from Valicor to their facility, and to me, that is a sizable volume of waste. I do not understand the reasoning behind their decision."

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

More Coverage: 

More:Here's why permit was suspended for Blackhorn waste disposal facility in Orange Grove

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