News Release from Senator Robert Nichols

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2008
Contact: Alicia Phillips
(512) 463-0103

Creighton and Nichols file bills to protect Texans from threats from injection wells

Austin -- This week, state Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Rep. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) each filed three bills addressing the dangers of injection wells.

The first bill (HB 177 and SB 273) requires operators of injection wells to test water and soil quality and regularly report the results to the state.

"The public has a right to know if their water sources are safe," said Nichols. "If there is a problem from an injection well, it needs to be detected and acted on as soon as possible."

Injection wells use high-power pumps to force waste and sometimes hazardous materials into underground disposal areas. Their use is highly controversial because of the possible risk of contamination of ground water and soil.

Creighton stressed this bill was only the first of several concerning the safety of injection wells.

"I'll be working with Sen. Nichols and other legislators to project Texans who are vulnerable to problems from injection wells," said Creighton. "This bill is a common-sense first step."

The identical bills would require injection well operators to conduct on-site groundwater and soil tests. The operator then must report the results to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on a regular basis and immediately when a quality change is detected.

The second bill (HB 178 and SB 274) addresses where injection wells may be placed. The bill prohibits a well within one half-mile of an established residence, church, school, daycare center, public park, or public water supply.

"The risks of injection wells are not completely understood," said Nichols. "Because of these risks, we must keep injection wells away from where people live, work and play."

The bill also prohibits injection wells in old oil fields.

"The combination of oil wells and injection wells is both unpredictable and highly dangerous," said Creighton. "There is no reason to take such a risk."

The third bill (HB 179 and SB 275) would require the TCEQ to establish rules regarding surface facilities for injection wells. This bill could directly affect a proposed injection well in Montgomery County, a well Nichols and Creighton both oppose.

In the meantime, Nichols and Creighton are working with Montgomery County residents to prevent TCEQ's approval of a permit. On November 19, the group Concerned Residents Opposed to Wells (CROW) will send a delegation to Austin to publically oppose the injection well in front of the TCEQ.

"Montgomery County residents have made their concerns clear, and we are going to do everything we can to support their efforts." said Creighton.

Nichols urged the TCEQ to put great weight on the opinions of the concerned citizens.

"These are the people who will suffer if something goes wrong," said Nichols. "I hope the TCEQ will give their testimony careful consideration."

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