The Commerce Journal

January 30, 2013

Toxic chemicals dumped in county

dumping could have had dire consequences, county pursuing litigation

By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal

GREENVILLE — On Dec. 29, 2012, five 55-gallon drums filled with toxic chemicals were dumped on County Road 1059 next to the Cowleech Watershed in the northwest corner of Greenville, according to Hunt County officials.

The watershed flows through Greenville into Lake Tawakoni, which serves as approximately one-fifth of the Dallas water supply and supplies the majority of Hunt County’s water.

Had one of the barrels leaked, officials said, Hunt County’s water supply would have been shut down.

Two of the five drums burst open when they were dumped on the road, depositing debris with labels containing the name and address of the H.M. Dunn Company, officials said.

“It has their lot number, label and expiration date,” Richard Hill, environmental enforcement officer of Hunt County, said. “It’s got H.M. Dunn and their address on it.”

Another barrel had Fisher Chemical’s label. That barrel contained 650 pounds of the chemical methylene chloride, or dichloromethane, which is classified by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentrations (IDLHs).”

According to Hill, the dumping could have had dire consequences.

“If that barrel had leaked, we would have had to shut down our water supply for a year,” he said, adding that extensive testing of the soil in the area showed none of the hazardous chemical had leaked.

The Hunt County Commissioners Court gave County Attorney Daniel Ray permission to enforce environmental laws through civil action against the companies involved in the illegal dumping.

“I’m in the middle of preparing to file a lawsuit, and conducting my own attorney investigation,” he said. “I will also be filing a suit in Travis County.”

Hill is currently investigating the incident and will pursue criminal charges against the individuals involved in the dumping.

He said companies looking to illegally dump in Hunt County need to think twice before doing so.

“We want Dallas to know that Hunt County is not the Metroplex’s dumping ground,” he said. “We’re going to make sure that Hunt County does not pay to have this cleaned up.”