April 14, 2014 10:03:43 AM
LIBERTY -- Amite County supervisors are hesitating over a plan to allow a landfill to bury oilfield waste and inject brine wastewater underground.
Supervisor Max Lawson wants to amend the county solid waste plan for the landfill proposed in February. It also would include an oil recycling plant.
However, the other four supervisors told The Enterprise-Journal they need more convincing.
"If we get down the road and we see something wrong with this deal, then we can't back out because we've approved for them to be on our solid waste plan," Supervisor Butch Graves said.
The landfill is one consequence of increasing oil drilling in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale formation. At least one injection well is already operating in the county. Lawson's land is among the sites where wells have been drilled.
Experts have said that the formation, stretching across parts of southwest Mississippi and central and southeast Louisiana could hold 7 billion barrels of oil. Drilling activity has stepped up this year, with Amite County at the heart of what appears to be the most promising area.
Steve Witmer of Atlanta-based CWI Enterprises said he doesn't have specific property in mind but needs 200 to 300 acres to house recycling, injection and solid waste disposal operations.
Witmer cited projections showing approximately 6,000 wells popping up across the formation, with each producing millions of barrels of brine water that must be safely disposed of so that it does not contaminate soil and groundwater.
"We're not seeking to be permitted to take household garbage and things of that nature," he said. "This is solely going to be for the oil fields."
If approved, Witmer said he could finish the facility in about a year and would hire 10 to 20 employees.
Witmer would also have to get approval from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality after the county amends its solid waste plan.
Supervisors Warren Leake and Lawson went with Witmer to visit a similar facility in Lake Charles, La.
Lawson said many oil field industry representatives have told him there's urgent need for such a facility in the area.
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