5,000 people, no indoor restrooms

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Five thousand people are expected to fill the Oil Palace in Tyler this weekend for graduation ceremonies, but there will be no indoor restrooms or water fountains available to use. Health officials have issued violations to the venue on their waste and drinking water systems.

The class of 2010 practices for Saturday's graduation, but friends, family, and students at Robert E. Lee and John Tyler will be faced with an inconvenience, during the commencement ceremony.

"The restrooms will all be closed and taped off," said Jeff Baynham, a representative for the Oil Palace.

He says they will provide alternate options to their indoor rest rooms and water fountains, following health code violations.

"What the oil palace has done, they have hired a company out of Dallas that will provide rest rooms," explained Baynham. "They are air conditioned. It's not port-a-potties. They are rest rooms on flats."

"They can occupy the building if they can bring in an alternate system that will support the crowd," explained Brenda Elrod, with the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

Elrod says health officials inspected the Oil Palace during the ZZ Top concert in April. She says problems with the drinking water and waste water system were noted.

"The water flow wasn't enough to provide enough water to power all the hand sinks and to flush all the toilets," she said. "So when you have a large crowd, they would fail."

Baynham says the Oil Palace is not responsible for this incident.

"Somebody had committed some kind of malicious act against the oil palace by turning all the water valves off," said Baynham. "Someone had gone into the women's restroom on the west side of the building, taken down the insulation of the roof and stuffed it in each one of the 16 toilets."

But health officials say they have had multiple complaints. They're asking the Oil Palace to bring their systems up to par to meet the demands of the large crowds it attracts.

In addition to the waste system violations, the health department says the Oil Palace no longer has a food establishment permit. They say the Oil Palace can re-apply for this permit when their water violations are resolved.

Copyright 2010 KLTV. All rights reserved.