News6 Investigates


Orange Grove residents face key Texas Railroad Commission decision

Blackhorn update 0412.png
Posted at 5:32 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 19:45:07-04

ORANGE GROVE, Texas — They’ve been fighting a battle against a waste-disposal facility since the first filing for a permit back in 2013. But just one day before the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) decides whether to renew Blackhorn Environmental Services' permit to operate for another five years, homeowners near the facility have a glimmer of hope.

“We’ve had some positive things happen,” said Allen Green, whose property borders the disposal site. “The politicians say they’re behind us, and the media have put us in the spotlight. But we’re on pins and needles. If they give them the permit, we’ve lost everything.”

Green says he’ll have to move if Blackhorn stays. He says the putrid odor from the site, combined with the bright lights that shine every night of the year and the noise from tanker trucks on CR 308 at all hours, have turned a once-peaceful life into a nightmare.

“We’ll have to leave if this is allowed to continue," he says. "I can’t risk my grandchildren's lives and my daughters lives. It’s a way of life gone. Not just for me but for everyone out here.”

The Green family is one of several who’ve filed suit against Blackhorn, alleging among other things, that the facility has destroyed their lifestyle and threatened their health. Ninety-six families live in the area near the site, which can be seen at night as far as nine miles in the distance.
The three-member RRC was scheduled to vote on Blackhorn’s permit renewal back on March 9, but tabled the vote, even though renewal had been recommended by commission staff. Since then, the RRC has issued a “notice of violation” concerning inadequate fencing at the site and concerning the reporting of waste streams coming into the facility. That document can be viewed in full here:

KRIS 6 News asked Blackhorn for comment on this story. The company’s written statement is also available in full here.

The RRC meets Tuesday at 10 a.m.

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