Officials investigating illegal dump site in Upshur County - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Officials investigating illegal dump site in Upshur County

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

UPSHUR COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The search is on in Upshur County to track down the person who illegally dumped hundreds of barrels on a piece of East Texas land. Federal officials are examining the waste to find out if it is hazardous.

At least 500 barrels were found on FM 2263, that's north east of Gilmer.

The barrels are opened, one by one, as EPA investigators check the insides for harmful chemicals.

Upshur County Fire Marshall, Paul Steelman, is worried for the environment and residents nearby.

"This site actually sits just a few yards from a church," said Steelman. "And, in the summer times, kids like to play around in the woods."

"You can tell, these [barrel] have been here for a while," said Karen McCormick, an EPA agent.

McCormick says her team of investigators have not come across anything hazardous, yet.  The drums they have opened have been empty or full of water.

"I'm kind of hoping this will be the trend all the way through," said McCormick.

But, McCormick says they are not in the clear. They must test every single drum before they hand the property back over to Upshur County.

"If it's in my backyard, it's extreme," said McCormick. "We've had some that are worse. We've had some that are not. We want to make sure that the county of Upshur and the city of Gilmore we are going to take care of it appropriately."

No matter what is found, authorities are sending across a clear message.

"This isn't going to be tolerated," said McCormick. "We want to keep our environment and our people safe!"

"We are looking into every complaint that we get and situations like this will not be tolerated," said Steelman.

When it comes to the person responsible, Steelman is keeping the leads under wraps.

"We have a few ideas, but that is about as far as we can go," he said.

EPA says that if hazardous materials are found, the party responsible must pay a hefty fine.

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