Some Gardendale residents say that Keystone Petroleum left 12 pits behind when those particular leases were acquired by Berry Petroleum. Only one of them has been removed.
Now residents, like Shane Leverett, continue to fear for their safety and future. "The pit has 43 times the level of benzene allowed by the EPA and TCEQ in it. It also has diesel and gasoline," says Leverett.
While his pit and all but two of the others have been restored or filled in, he requested that his be removed completely. They actually started the job, but the workers didn't get very far. It was all caught on tape. Leverett says, "I asked them to remove the pit and they removed part of it, and then stopped and buried the pit."
Although the pits are lined with a 12-millimeter plastic liner, they still contain high levels of benzene, a well-known carcinogen. So, Leverett contacted the Texas Railroad Commission who told him that anything that goes into one of these pits is exempt.
"The first thing that came to my mind..does the Railroad Commission have the power to exempt my grandkids from getting leukemia and that's the problem. This is so close to our water table, and with our dairy cows and grandkids drinking the milk, if it gets into our water table we'll just have to leave because there's nothing here for us," says Leverett.
But there's a good chance this story could have a positive ending. While Big 2 contacted Keystone Petroleum and never heard back, we did have a chance to speak with Berry Petroleum. Coming up in next week's Energy Report, we'll hear what they have to say about moving forward. Here's a little preview. "Berry runs a very clean, very safe, excellent work sites. These are going to be well secured, well protected and respecting the needs of the community in the fact that we're all co-existing in the same area," says Jeff Coile, Berry Petroleum Spokesman.
The full report airs next Thursday at 10pm.