Contamination confirmed in river
Editor’s Note: This story went to press at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 15. A full update from Tuesday evening, May 15, with the result of the settlement appears here. Austin-based journalist Kimberly Reeves contributed to this story under contract with The Colorado County Citizen.
AUSTIN—A deal was in the works Tuesday morning in which Inland Recycling & Remediation may agree to a settlement in ongoing litigation brought by the state concerning alleged violations of the Texas Water Code connected with the company’s Altair Recycling facility and conditions at Skull Creek near Altair.
News of a potential deal came around 10:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, during the second day of hearings on a more restrictive temporary restraining order sought by the Lower Colorado River Authority, which was granted permission to intervene in the state’s lawsuit.
Terms of the deal were not fully disclosed, but sources close to the case confirmed to The Citizen that the terms would include remediation of the Inland site near Altair and damaged portions of Skull Creek.
Sources also confirmed early Tuesday morning that testing done by the Lower Colorado River Authority has confirmed that chemical contaminants from the pollution in Skull Creek have reached the Colorado River in amounts significant enough to show up in water testing.
The dark, black pollution running through Skull Creek reached the Colorado River in mid-April. The first incident of contamination was reported Feb. 8.
Various chemicals, including chromium, zinc, copper, toluene, xylene, ethylbenzene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, and 1,3,5-trimethylben-zene, as well as various petroleum hydrocarbons, have been detected in the contamination, according to filings by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the state in the matter.
Proceedings recessed earlier Tuesday morning for the settlement negotiations. The hearing was set to reconvene at 1 p.m. Tuesday to either discuss the settlement or proceed with the hearing on the temporary restraining order.
Monday’s proceedings got underway around 11 a.m. with a hearing on Inland’s motion for continuance.
Following that, three witnesses took the stand.
An investigator from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the state’s environmental regulator who issued several of the permits Inland operated under, testified Monday afternoon.
That testimony was followed by testimony by a toxicologist, and later by an expert on the TCEQ’s permitting process.
An environmental expert retained by the Lower Colorado River Authority was expected to take the witness stand Tuesday, as the Citizen went to press.
The Citizen has in-person coverage of the Tuesday hearing and updates will be posted to the Citizen’s website and social media channels sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.