Toxic Waste Coming to West Texas, Part 3 - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/29/09

NewsChannel 11 Investigates: Toxic Waste Coming to West Texas, Part 3

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - On Monday, we first told you about millions of pounds of toxic waste being taken to the Waste Control Specialists landfill in Andrews, Texas. David Barry, with the Environmental Protection Agency says the Ogallala aquifer is under that dump, but the president of Waste Control Specialists says he can prove otherwise.

Rod Baltzer is the president of Waste Control Specialists, which is the landfill taking this toxic waste. Baltzer flew in for an interview with NewsChannel 11 after our first story aired. He says the site is not on top of the Ogallala aquifer and he can prove it. "The Ogallala aquifer is not under our site. But just to be safe, the way we design our landfill is to dig into the red bed clays and to ensure that nothing above it would interfere with that wastes," said Baltzer.

Baltzer claims the hundreds of feet of red bed clay isn't the only liner between the ground and these toxic contaminants. "We've then got a three foot clay liner, we've got a geomembrane plastic liner and then we've got a concrete liner," he said.

Baltzer explains that, according to maps by the Texas Water Development Board in 2006, the dump in Andrews does not sit above the Ogallala. He also says Texas Tech University did a study back in the 90's that found the same results. "This site is probably the most studied analyzed and modeled site in the history of the universe," Rod says. So why is this site so controversial?

We spoke with David Barry, the Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson for Region 6, who once again states, "It does appear that the Waste Control Specialist site is above the Ogallala aquifer."

"I would love to be able to talk with EPA and see what they were looking at. I don't know if they were looking at old maps that have changed," Baltzer states in response.

Jim Conkwright with the High Plains Underground Water District did some checking and says, "It depends on your definition of the aquifer. Some say it is and some say it isn't."

Glen Hackler, the city manager of Andrews, says they profit from WCS. "I think over time there's going to be tens of millions of dollars of economic impact to benefit our community," Hackler explains.

So we know the possible economic benefit for Andrews, but it's still unknown how much WCS will profit from this waste. Rod Baltzer says WCS is required to have financial insurance. They're insured for over $8 million.

WCS issued a statement saying, "State and federal governments have determined on 8 separate occasions that the WCS facility does not pose a threat to the drinking water of any person, city or entity in the Permian Basin or the South Plains, including Lubbock."

WCS has also provided a list of authorizations by state and federal governments. Click here to view those documents.

4/28/09
NewsChannel 11 Investigates: Toxic Waste Coming to West Texas, Part 2
Monday we told you about millions of pounds of toxic waste headed for West Texas. Tuesday we hear from a former TCEQ employee who claims he quit his job after permits were granted to the landfill against his recommendation.
4/27/09
NewsChannel 11 Investigates: Toxic Waste Coming to West Texas, Part 1
It is the biggest clean-up effort in the nation, and contaminants from New York's Hudson River will soon make their way to West Texas to be buried for good. NewsChannel 11's Nicole Pesecky is investigating what has become a state-wide controversy.

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