Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte

For Immediate Release
January 24, 2007
Contact: Tiffany Champion, (210) 733-6604

E-News from the Office of Senator Van de Putte

Dear Friend,

I am writing to give you the latest update on the mulch fire in Helotes. As you know, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) contracted with a private company (Oil Mop LLC of Pasadena) to contain and extinguish the fire.

After consulting with the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA), the San Antonio Water System (SAWS), officials from Bexar County and the City of Helotes, TCEQ instructed the contractor to go into smoke suppression mode. In smoke suppression mode, water is sprayed onto the fire in a pattern to knock down smoke, while using less water.

There is now concern that the water could seep through the mulch pile and enter the Aquifer, affecting nearby drinking water. The contractor has now proposed a new plan to fight the fire. The revised plan includes installing drain pits and trenches, which will allow water to drain. The pits will be lined to prevent the water from entering the aquifer.

The drawback of the proposal is that it will take approximately a week to build the drains and trenches and it will take longer to haul the material, making the original date of completion (January 24) unfeasible.

Nearby well water has been tested. These tests revealed that the reported smell and cloudiness of the water is due to cresol. Cresol are organic compounds found in wood and are released by combustion. The cresol likely seeped from the mulch into the soil and the aquifer through water used to fight the fire. However, it has been determined that short-term exposure to the measured levels should not cause adverse health effects and no immediate measures are necessary to limit consumption. The drainage system being recommended with the revised plan should reduce any contamination.

In the meantime, constant air and water monitoring will continue. I will remain on top of this issue and will bring you updates as they occur. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with questions or concerns. Take Care.



***Anyone detecting changes in their well water can call the TCEQ hotline at 888-777-3185. Customers of SAWS with concerns should call 210-233-3622.***

District Office
700 N. St. Mary's St. #1725
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 733-6604
(210) 733-6605 - fax