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Oil storage tanks catch officials by surprise

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Posted at 6:36 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-30 00:52:35-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Several mass crude oil storage tanks built directly across from a neighborhood near the Calallen and Annaville areas has the people who live there concerned.

It turns out they're not the only ones.

Local leaders say they had no idea these tanks were a part of EPIC Crude Holdings, LP's pipeline project. They're being built along Callicoate Road, between Leopard and Highway 44.

These concerns came up during a town hall meeting last week. County Commissioner Carolyn Vaughn, who represents the area, tried to assure her constituents that the Nueces County Commissioners Court and other local entities didn't know about the tanks until work had already started.

One of those residents was Dee Skinner. Her home is directly across from the construction zone where the the tanks are being built. She's lived at that location for 47 years.

Her son, Todd Skinner, says the house he grew up in hardly resembles the quaint farm home that his late father left for his mom.

"The trees in the front are dying. All the construction dust has pitted the house and you can see where it needs to be painted. My mother has asthma and I know that it's hard for her to stay here. She's been going up to Houston to stay with my sister," Todd Skinner explained to KRIS 6 News.

"I was blown off of my heels when I come out here at how fast -- because it wasn't but six weeks before I was out here before -- that this whole project started."

EPIC's pipeline will transport crude oil from West Texas to the Port of Corpus Christi. Back in March, city council approved an industrial district for developing this property as part of the project. Supporting documents from the city mention a fractionator as part of the development. However, there's no mention of the crude storage tanks for this site of nearly 500 acres.

"That's what we thought was going to be the fractionator plant and then a pipeline going through here that goes to the port. This was kind of snuck in," Vaughn said.

Vaughn tells us that EPIC has apologized and is now working to do the right thing for neighbors. But she says their way of life will never be the same.

"I have a feeling that some of the neighbors are going to be putting their homes up for sale,” she said. “You know, it's going to devalue their homes. They're upset about that, as we all would be. You're not going to want to look at this. They moved out here to be in the country, not to look at crude tanks."

Todd Skinner is hopeful that EPIC will live up to its promise of being good neighbors and will bring any and all options to the table.

"I think the only way they're going to be able to rectify this for someone like my mom and her age is to come in here and give them face value for their property today so they can have a quality of life tomorrow," Skinner said.

EPIC has already taken steps to address concerns from residents. The company will now bring in four water trucks to help with the dust from the construction zone. Crews are also picking up trash several times a day along Callicoate Road. EPIC has also hired off-duty sheriff's deputies to monitor traffic on the road on weekdays from 6 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Another town hall meeting is set for Sept. 19. EPIC will come back with a specific plan to address some of the issues involved with the project.