Nordheim, Texas, population 307, may soon have a 200-plus acre waste disposal plant as its neighbor despite the protests of the city’s mayor, Kathy Payne.
The small town (one bank, one school, one cafe and a couple of shops) is located in the Eagle Ford Shale region of southern Texas, where vast oil deposits have only recently become accessible through hydraulic fracturing — a process that involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure underground to fracture the rocks and release the oil inside.
Nordheim Mayor Kathy Payne in City Hall. ©2014 Julie Dermansky
Payne learned about the waste disposal plant in the local paper. Because the facility is planned for outside city limits, industry doesn’t have to share its plans with her.
Since reading about the proposal she has done all she can to learn what it will mean for her city with the assistance of Louisiana-based environmental scientist Wilma Subra, who investigates industry hot spots to help citizens make informed decisions about developments coming their way.
The waste disposal site proposed by San Antonio-based Pyote Reclamation Service will be a quarter of a mile outside of Nordheim if it’s granted a permit by the Texas Railroad Commission, the regulatory agency for all things gas and oil in Texas. The facility would have eight pits up to 25 feet deep and span an area almost as big as the town itself. Pyote also has plans to install another facility 3.5 miles away.