"They get the gold mine, we get the shaft!" | Green Arkansas

"They get the gold mine, we get the shaft!"

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ADEQ held a public hearing last night to answer questions and receive comments on a proposed land-application site for drilling fluids in Prairie County. Prairie County Landfarm, LLC, is seeking a permit to build reserve pits to hold, and then land-apply, drilling fluids from natural gas drilling operations.

Citizens of Des Arc are not happy about the plans. They have many concerns regarding the proposed land-application site, chief among them are the environmental impact on wildlife in the area. Citizens are also concerned about the impact on their town, roads and way of life in general. Prairie Co. Land Farm is set to accept fluids from over 100 trucks per day. That’s about one truck every 20 minutes rolling down narrow gravel roads and crossing school bus routes. They also wonder why their county has to accept this waste when there isn't one drilling site in Prairie County.  ADEQ says they cannot speak to the traffic or highway concerns, and it seems the only recourse the people of Des Arc have in that regard is to take it up with the county judge who seemed just as defeated as everyone else in the room last night.

Basically what the meeting amounted to was a bunch of people in suits telling people in camoflauge hats and farm boots that everything was going to be alright when all the evidence suggests that’s not going to be the case. Attendees came armed with a list of current disposal sites and an even longer list of all their violations (inadequate walls around the pits, overflowing pits, improper discharge of fluids into nearby creeks or fields, etc.). ADEQ’s record of holding these sites to account is not very good, and these people knew that. They were asking for help in order to stop this operation from going in, and all ADEQ could do was shrug shoulders and basically say their hands were tied.

Steve Drown, chief of the Water Division at ADEQ, said if they were going to be tougher on these types of sites, then they were going to have to get more help from the legislature. He also said he realized ADEQ was short on inspectors and that violations had occurred in the past.

“I can’t say this guy is going to be guilty before he even starts,” Drown said. “We would love to have more regulations to enforce, but that’s going to have to come from the legislature.”

It’s not ADEQ’s fault that they don’t have the teeth, or the inspectors, to properly regulate land-application sites. But citizens were asking questions that made perfect sense, and getting answers that didn’t.

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