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How ‘Landfarms’ for Disposing Drilling Waste Are Causing Problems in Texas

Nov 14, 2012
(StateImpact Texas)

Landfarms are privately-owned but state-regulated fields where “low toxicity waste” is thinly spread then tilled into the soil. The tainted waste is supposed to degrade naturally.

In Texas, landfarms are used to dispose of the drilling fluid used to reduce friction as the drill chews through thousands of feet of rock and sand.

But a criminal case involving the operation of a landfarm near Beaumont raises questions about how the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) is enforcing the state’s pollution laws.

The Texas Environmental Enforcement Task Force, run out of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office but with statewide jurisdiction, recently won a criminal conviction and a $1.35 million fine against the company that had operated the landfarm, Pemco Services, Inc.