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Beggs residents oppose proposed wastewater injection well - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Beggs residents oppose proposed wastewater injection well

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With the price of oil going up, fracking is starting to take off in Central Louisiana, with major oil companies leasing hundreds of thousands of acres in the past few months.

Experts say the increase in production will make a positive impact on Acadiana's oil-and-gas-centered economy, and oil field service companies are starting to make investments.

Eagle Oil has applied to build a wastewater injection well along LA 182 near Beggs in St. Landry Parish.

KATC Investigates traveled to an active injection well located in Mansfield to see what impacts they have seen so far. The injection well in Mansfield receives wastewater from the Haynesville Shale Formation. 

Environmental scientist and president of the Subra Company, an environmental consulting company, Wilma Subra led a group of concerned residents from St. Landry Parish to see the injection well in Mansfield. 

"This facility is the same capacity as the one proposed for St. Landry Parish," explained Subra.

The main ecological concerns for Subra are possible toxic air emissions, and wastewater seeping into the drinking water.

An onsite manager of the injection well in Mansfield told KATC Investigates that the facility receives about 200 vacuum trucks carrying oilfield waste-water per day.

"The odors you're smelling are the residual oil field waste that is present in the produced water and the flowback water. So, as each truck pulls in, it's sending these hydro carbons into the air and these hyrdro carbons are extremely dangerous, they're very very toxic," explained Subra.

KATC Investigates then went to the proposed injection well site in St. Landry Parish.

Unlike the remote injection well in Mansfield, the proposed site in St. Landry Parish is in the middle of a rural residential area.

"This is a highly populated area with farm land. We have rice farmers, crawfish producers, hay producers, cattle farmers that all surround the area where the site is," explained nearby landowner Dwight Landreneaux.

According to Eagle Oil's permit application: five trucks per hour and more than 105 trucks a day will be using a curving narrow two-lane highway to drop off the waste water.

"There are families that are thinking about building new homes here, that are waiting to see the outcome of this project," explained nearby farm owner, Mary Smith Ellis.

The 10-acre site is near properties where families have called home for generations, and they want to make sure they'll still be able to enjoy the same quality of life. 

Local resident Earal C. Smith, grew up in the area: "we used to walk around and have fun, and hunt and do all kinds of things." 

Subra, who's providing community members with information, believes the injection well will inevitably leak waster water into the parish's sole source of drinking water: the Chicot Aquifer.

"The geologists think if you put two to three layers of protection down this well into the area where it's gonna be injected, that that protects the ground water resources. Time and time again those layers of protection have failed," Subra said.

However, oil and gas industry experts say the environmentalists claims are unfounded.

"The issue of getting rid of the water that you use in fracking and inject into deep wells; even the Obama Administration, which was not very favorable to the oil and gas industry, even they found there was no impact to ground water," explained Industry Consultant and LSU Economics Professor Emeritus, Dr. Loren C. Scott.

"I would frack in my own back yard. That's not an environmental risk. Documented; we've drilled hundreds of thousands of wells now. We've been fracking since the 1940's," explained Amelia Resource President & Geologist, Kirk Barrell.

However, in Subra's decades of work, she claims she's witnessed many community's drinking water poisoned at the hands of the oil & gas industry.

"It is gonna happen eventually. And, then if it doesn't happen in this generation but the next. Then that generation is going to be looking back at their ancestors, and asking, why did you allow this to happen," Subra said.

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources is still reviewing Eagle Oil's application for the injection well. 
 
Should it be approved as complete, DNR will then start a public feedback process.

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