By Re’Chelle Turner
March 2, 2023
LIBERTY COUNTY – In less than 24 hours, residents in a small community in Liberty County say their voices are finally being heard after a crude oil spill damaged their properties, well water supply and killed their livestock.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) says they have been in contact with the Railroad Commission, and they are monitoring the situation.
KPRC 2 cameras captured crews cleaning up the property owned by Amaris Argueta and her husband Fernando Garcia. Drone video shows the mess from the crude oil spill that’s impacting the Dayton community.
Courtney Aguilar lives in the area and says it’s a relief to see crews cleaning up the mess.
“At least they started,” she said. “Hopefully, they finish like they say they are going to.”
“Unfortunately, this community is not alone. We see pipeline digging incidents all the time,” Virginia Palacios said.
Virginia Palacios works with Commission Shift. The organization reforms oil and gas oversights by building public support to hold the Railroad Commission of Texas accountable.
The RRC says the operator ‘Jay Management Company’ has taken over cleanup operations which seem to have started on Thursday.
“We see enforcement actions for those kinds of things all the time. What that tells me is that there are simply not enough preventative measures taking place both at the company level or with state oversight bodies at the railroad commission,” Palacios said.
KPRC’s Re’Chelle Turner spoke to a family who believes the oil is causing their skin to break out.
“The thumbs are the most affected and my hands,” Johnathan said.
Little Johnathan is 11 years old and has sores all over his body.
“It’s itchy, I really want to scratch it. I want to hold myself but sometimes I can’t hold it. My eye…when I try to go to sleep, I can barely go to sleep,” he said.
His mother Rosalia believes the crude oil flowed into their well water and caused an allergic reaction.
“I’m tired, and I’m nervous,” the mother said.
In a statement, TCEQ said the following:
“On January 29, 2023, the TCEQ received a notification alleging a release of oil from a pipeline in Liberty County; the notification was promptly referred to the Railroad Commission of Texas, the agency with jurisdiction. Between February 14 and March 2, 2023, the TCEQ Houston Region 12 office received additional complaints which were also referred to the RRC. Regarding health affects, because the Texas Railroad Commission is directing this cleanup and is familiar with the specifics of the spill, we recommend that this question be directed to their toxicologists. Very generally, direct contact with light crude oil can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. More information can be found in the CDC’s fact sheet at: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/oil_spill/docs/Light_Crude_Oil_and_Your_Health.pdf”
“There should never be a situation where people have had oil coming out of the ground,” said Naomi Yoder with Healthy Gulf. The organization supports environmental health.
“I would recommend that people use protective equipment when they are outside in contact with the air, water, or soil where those substances are,” she said.
Jay Management Company had no comment.
We reached out to Pct. 4 County Commissioner Leon Wilson but have not heard back.