As drilling technology becomes more advanced, we're seeing more and more rigs going up in places that haven't been drilled on in years and that are now more populated. It's something Gardendale residents are beginning to get used to.
The Gardendale Accountability Project, also known as GARDAP, was created to give concerned residents a voice. And they're opinion surrounding these reserve pits can be heard loud and clear. "The waste, the toxins, the carcinogens that are left in the ground. The EPA limit is five PPB (parts per billion.) However, in a pit in Texas, there is no limit. And so, if it's in a pit, it could be 1 million times the EPA limit and be fine with the Railroad commission. That's not acceptable to us," says Dan Boggs, GARDAP coordinator.
All but two pits have been restored, but according to Boggs, that just means, "covered up and smoothed over." And that's why they're concerned. They believe toxins could eventually penetrate the lining and contaminate their groundwater. Boggs says there other concern is, "if you have a pit that is undefined, future generations won't even know where it's at because they're not marked, and so the question we have is would you want to eat vegetables that are grown on one of these pits? Would you feed them to your grandchildren?"
And so now, they're asking for one thing. "We simply want berry petroleum to remove the pits," says Boggs.
But that's part of the problem. Berry Petroleum isn't the company that put the pits there in the first place. "We are in the process, right now, of going back and studying how those pits were filled by the previous operator and what the history behind them is so that we have the right information moving forward as to the appropriate treatment," says Jeff Coyle, Berry Petroleum spokesperson.
And as for future operations, Coyle says, "We are going to be starting the drilling process in the very near future, and I think that's when people will get to see how Berry operates and what sorts of things we do to make sure people are safe, secure, and the well sites are attractive."
Coyle also says that Berry Petroleum will be using a closed loop mud system, which essentially means that all the materials used in the fracking process will stay inside a closed loop system. Reserve pits won't be needed at all.