ALICE, Texas — Jim Wells County passed a resolution Friday standing in opposition to the permit renewal for Blackhorn Environmental's waste disposal facility near Orange Grove.
"It's what we can do now," said county judge Juan Rodriguez, Jr., after listening to residents reiterating the claims of foul odors they've been making since the facility opened two years ago.
"I've got 46 pages of odor logs I've been keeping for 63 weeks," said Orange Grove resident Tara Jones. "I've had 226 days when I walked outside and smelled odor from that facility."
Blackhorn Environmental, based in Corpus Christi, was first granted a permit to operate by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) in 2015. After some delays, the building process was completed in early 2019. The facility handles non-toxic oil and gas waste. Residents, fearing strong odors and noise from heavily loaded tanker trucks, began voicing opposition to the facility back in 2013, when it was first proposed by the owners of Sable Environmental.
In 2014, Sable was sold to Ferrellgas. However, the land in question was not. So, a new company was formed (Blackhorn Environmental) to make use of the permit.The land was part of the Mosser family holdings for generations. Suzanne Mosser's husband, William Cocke, Jr., was connected to Sable Environmental, and is the part of Blackhorn's ownership.
Several times, residents have been treated for eye irritation, nausea and breathing problems related to odors from the Blackhorn facility. In addition, an inspector from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) became ill while taking air samples in response to a complaint. Still, the facility's inspection records have been within guidelines, according to the RRC, which has the sole discretion to renew Blackhorn's permit.
RCC staff have already recommended renewal of the permit for another five years. The three-member RCC will likely make the final decision during an opening meeting in Austin on March 9.