By AMAN BATHEJA - Fort Worth Star Telegram - June 23, 2010
FORT WORTH - The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is investigating a company that installed a gas pipeline through the site of an old landfill in northeast Fort Worth without getting proper permission.
Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners is installing a 30-inch pipeline that runs from just north of Arlington to a network of interstate pipelines near Justin.
The line, designed to transport natural gas produced from drill sites in the Barnett Shale, is expected to start operating in the third quarter of this year.
Mary Kelleher's home in the 7900 block of Randol Mill Road is next door to the empty lot where the pipeline has been installed. She complained to the environmental agency this month when she noticed that the company's workers found trash while digging. An agency investigator visited the site June 11.
"TCEQ investigators noted large pieces of concrete, limbs, stumps, wood pieces, rebar, and metal piping along with standing water in the trench," according to a statement from the agency. "In addition, the investigators noted the same types of debris in the excavated piles of soil resting next to the trench."
The site was listed as a former unauthorized landfill on a database maintained by the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Companies are supposed to check the database before installing a pipeline in the region, according to officials.
Enterprise spokesman Rick Rainey said the company was unaware of the landfill off Randol Mill. He said that the company was aware of a landfill along another part of the same pipeline and took appropriate steps there.
"If you identify a landfill along your route, it requires a little more excavation, and a few more steps are taken," Rainey said.
Enterprise has over 8,000 miles of natural gas pipeline installed in Texas.
Rainey said the company has "mitigated" the site that is under investigation, including properly disposing of the waste found there.
"At this point, we're waiting for the state to say: 'Everything looks good. We are good to proceed,'" Rainey said.
The agency hopes to complete the investigation by July 10, spokesman Terry Clawson said. Enterprise could be fined or issued a "notice of violation," he said.
The Legislature directed regional organizations to create landfill databases in 1993, said Samuel Brush, manager of environment and development for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
The council's database includes hundreds of locations, Brush said. Some sites were once legitimately permitted landfills. Others were illegal dumps where people unloaded trucks of trash from the side of the road.
Information on many locations is sparse, so it's important for companies digging on those sites to excavate thoroughly and analyze the waste they find, Brush said.
"It is the uncertainty of what's under the ground that you need to be careful,' Brush said. "Construction debris is less of a concern than maybe drums of hazardous waste."
Another danger is methane gas, a nontoxic but explosive gas that some landfills produce, Brush said.
Kelleher owns about 11 acres on Randol Mill Road. Behind her house are a small pond and a farm with llamas, donkeys, goats and feral piglets. She calls it her "little nirvana."
For months, Kelleher has been warily watching workers install the pipeline about 60 feet from her bedroom window.
"My concern, of course, is with my own safety. I don't like the fact that the pipeline is on trash," Kelleher said. "I'm frustrated."
Search the North Central Texas Council of Governments landfill database here.
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