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SKULL CREEK: “Conditions… have only worsened”

May 01, 2019 - 00:00
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    A sign erected by Colorado County warning of hazardous conditions at Skull Creek is shown early Monday evening as polluted water runs over the low water crossing at County Road 16. It is unknown who tied the handmade cross to the

Citizen | Vince Leibowitz

AUSTIN — Conditions at Inland Environmental & Remediation and at Skull Creek near Altair are getting worse, not better, attorneys for the state argued in state district court yesterday in Austin during hearings on a motion for continuance filed by Inland and extending the temporary restraining order issued late last month, ultimately resulting in a more restrictive order against the company..

A hearing on the temporary restraining order originally set for Thursday was conducted Monday in Austin.

After two changes in counsel by Inland and its owner, David L. Polston, the company’s attorneys initially asked the judge for a continuance yesterday.

In its motion opposing the continuance, attorneys at the Texas Attorney General’s Office wrote in pleadings that the situation at the creek is not improving, and accused Inland of bulldozing waste in to the ground, and continuing to accept waste at their Altair facility.

“Meanwhile, conditions in Skull Creek have only worsened. Rather than comply with the temporary restraining order, Defendants have taken to bulldozing gelatinous solid waste into the ground, emptying contaminated wastewater into a self-made impoundment constructed from other onsite solid waste, and continued to accept waste at the Facility,” attorneys argued in a brief opposing a continuance.

The AG’s office also accused Inland of contempt of the TRO saying black material is oozing from the ground at the site.

“Most importantly, the hearing should go forward given the severity of the ongoing violations of State environmental laws and Defendants’ contempt of the temporary restraining order. TCEQ investigators have documented Defendants ongoing contempt of Judge Jenkins’s directive to contain open and spilling waste at the site, stop accepting waste, and stop discharging waste into Skull Creek. See Exhibits 6 and 7. Defendants continued to accept waste. See Exhibit 7. Conditions at Skull Creek have only worsened since the April 12 order. It is so bad, that at certain parts of the facility, black material oozes up from the ground,” the motion notes.

A second temporary restraining order was issued late Monday afternoon, and specifically orders Inland to stop accepting any waste. The previous TRO allowed the company to continue conducting certain activities under two TCEQ permits.