Residents in Dayton community concerned about their health, livestock after crude oil spill

DAYTON – Residents in a rural Liberty County community fear they are in danger because of an oil spill. Those that live in the area say it started last year, and now the problem has gotten out of control.

“I think we are all in danger in this community. Our kids, ourselves. And it’s very bad out here,” resident Amaris Argueta said.

Argueta and her husband, Fernando Garcia, spoke about the crude oil which spilled everywhere on their 10 acres of land and across their small community.

The couple says, back in September, they damaged a production line while trying to clean up the property.

They called Jay Management Company, which owns the mineral rights.

“A pipe had busted, and we did let them know. They just never came to fix it,” Argueta said.

Residents say the problem has gotten worse over time, seeping into their drainage system and well water.

They say the busted pipes have rusted and haven’t been fixed in years.

“We are concerned. But this is the only place we have to live.” Argueta said.

KPRC 2’s Re’Chelle Turner spoke to a soon-to-be mother in the area who says the company blocked off the county road and locked gates around the community.

“I’m a high-risk pregnancy, and on Monday, I started getting contractions. There was no way out,” she said.

A farmer was able to show the brown murky water they believe has been mixed with oil that their livestock is drinking.

“I have a farm with cows, and two of them died a couple of weeks ago,” Jose Sotelo said.

In a statement, the Texas Railroad Commission says:

“On January 29 the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office notified the RRC of a crude oil spill, and inspectors were dispatched. It appears that the landowner damaged a production line while clearing land. Liberty County emergency officials deployed booms along impacted drainage ditches and vacuum trucks to location.

The operator of the lease (Jay Management Company) has taken over cleanup operations, with additional containment booms deployed along impacted drainage ditches and vacuum trucks to skim and remove oil. The operator has crews to remove oily vegetation, debris and remediate impacted soil. RRC field inspectors are monitoring and documenting cleanup activities until the cleanup is complete to ensure the environment and residents are safe.”

“They are just now starting to move today,” Argueta said.

The couple says they are now being sued by the company, which blamed them for the spill.

“Like $250,000 in damages,” the couple said. “To be honest, what they are causing us is way more than what they are trying to sue us for.”

KPRC 2 reached out to Jay Management Company several times but has not heard back. Residents say they plan to seek legal action.

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