Written comments sought for deep well facility

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Quite a large number of Dubberly residents spoke against approval of an application for a deep well injection waste disposal facility Thursday in the Minden City Council chambers, but individuals who didn’t get a chance to attend the public hearing can still have a voice on the issue.

Written comments will be accepted by the Department of Natural Resources until 4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1 on Nelson Energy’s application to operate a commercial disposal facility on the company’s property just off Jack Martin Road near Dubberly.

Residents living near the location made up the bulk of opponents at the Thursday public hearing. In addition to those who expressed their concerns, a petition with 237 signatures of individuals opposed to the permit was handed over to hearing commissioners.

A decision on whether or not the application for commercial operation of the facility will be approved is expected within 10 days of the Dec. 1 deadline for submitting written comments. Commissioners will wade through public comments and the lengthy application which one opponent compared to another well-known document.

“I started reading the application and decided to read the Affordable Care Act instead, because it would take less time,” Jack Martin Road resident Gary Simolke said.

Nelson Energy’s Dick Nelson said the company began planning the salt water disposal well in 2009 for use in disposing of his company’s salt water. By March of 2010, he said, the company had set pipe in the well “…with the best material and best engineering,” he added.

Simolke said he understood Basic Energy Services, a Fort Worth, Texas-based oil and gas service company with a field office in the SWID park in Sibley, planned to buy the site if Nelson’s commercial application is approved. Simolke said his research into Basic yielded a disturbing fact.

“A story in the February, 2014, Houston Chronicle on the top Texas firms in oilfield accident rates listed Basic Energy Services as number two,” he said. “They had 374 claims, many of which were work-related driving accidents, and a total of $9,102,837 in benefits paid (2008 though 2012).”

Randall Lylac of AllTech Environmental Services prepared the Nelson application. He said the well operator would stress the safe operation of the well and safe delivery of waste to the site.

“Probably two trucks per hour will be coming to the site and, most of the time, trucks won’t be going up and down the road during the time the school bus will be running,” he said in response to concerns about a school bus stop in the area. “It takes time to get to a site and load a truck…it would be 9 or 10 o’clock before they start rolling in.”

Concerning the safety of the disposal well site, “I would much rather my children go onto a disposal site accidentally than onto an oil and gas site,” Lylac said.

Steve Lemmons, the Webster Parish Police Jury member who lives in and represents the area, said the jury will conduct a public hearing on matters relating to the disposal well at its December 2 meeting. Jury meetings are held on the second floor of the parish courthouse and begin at 10:30 a.m.

“We will look at restrictions on the road (Jack Martin Road) and there are several options we plan to discuss,” Lemmons said. “One of those things will probably be a weight limit on the road. We hope the people who are affected by this will come to the hearing.”

Lemmons said he believed he made most of the points he considered important during his presentation to the DNR officials Thursday. But, he added, “…there are still facts we need to collect as we move forward.”

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