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County Officials Address Residents Affected by Groundwater Contamination

MIdland County Commissioner Luis Sanchez, September 1, 2015 (KRTS / Lana Straub)

Residents in a neighborhood south of the city of Midland have been avoiding their well water. This is after tests showed high levels of contaminants. In 1990, a similar mixture of contaminants were found at a Baker-Hughes facility nearby, and the company has been involved ever since with remediation and monitoring efforts. On Tuesday, county officials visited with affected residents.

Midland County Commissioner Luis Sanchez stands in front of a church south of Interstate 20, where residents have been coming for bottled water, ice, and information. “Alright," he says, "I’ll give you my phone number. Again, I do want to talk to those residents.”

It’s believed that groundwater contaminants date back to a spill more than 20 years ago. “My understanding," says Sanchez, "it was a spill that was back in the 1990s. It’s not too far from here.” He points to the north, toward a Baker-Hughes property. “It happened in that facility, somewhere on there on Market Street, on their property. Where exactly, I don’t know. Again, that would be a good Baker-Hughes question.”

Baker-Hughes, the oil-services company, has been handing out free ice and water for more than week. Lauren Silverman is their Director of Operations Support. She stands in front of a map indicating where they’re monitoring wells: “There’s an area that’s south of I-20 and east of Pease Trail, north of CR 118, and south of Goodnight Trail.”

Kelly Scribner is a toxicologist brought in to test the water. She found three chemicals in concentrations above the accepted level of drinking water: “Trichloroethene and Tetrachloroethene and then Dichloroethene.” These chemicals had many industrial applications. “Forty, fifty years ago they were commonly used as equipment degreasers.”

The company says they’ll provide results of the groundwater tests to affected residents and to the TCEQ, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Lana Straub contributed to this report.


Former KRTS/KXWT News Director