SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - It’s really big and many people are wondering just what it is. If you’ve been around County Roads 1133 and 1100 in Smith County you may have seen it. It looks like a small town has moved in along with six good sized silos.
Neighbors were curious when all sorts of heavy equipment showed up at what was a pretty much empty oil lease in Smith County just a few weeks ago. Everyone who saw it had an educated guess, but I asked Shane Austin at Modisette Welding to take a look at a picture a viewer sent us.
“Fracking; fracturing the earth that’s all we’re doing,” Austin revealed.
Now when he says “we” he means a collective oil field “we”, not Modisette Welding, which rebuilds oil field equipment. They don’t do any fracking themselves. And as far as the towers:
“These towers replace a trailer that hauls in sand,” Austin said.
He says the old method of getting sand into the mix that is pumped into the earth was messy.
“The EPA has come in and said, hey we don’t want silica sand floating around in the air anymore, figure it out,” Austin stated.
There’s an old trailer in Modisette’s back lot that will soon be obsolete.
“It’s a horizontal trailer, each compartment full, and as they open up the compartments sand falls down on the conveyer,” Austin explained.
And it kicked up a lot of dust, which nearby residents didn’t appreciate.
“It’s a dirty process,” Austin said.
“But with these silos it’s a different deal,” I offered.
“Way different deal. Everything is contained. The silos are enclosed, when everything goes into the blender it’s all socked on the end,” Austin stated.
Honestly I didn’t know if fracking was occurring while I was on site, but several trucks unloaded sand and I saw no clouds of dust.
Neighbors who didn’t want to go on camera seemed more concerned about the 18 wheelers damaging the road, although those who live close deal with noise and lights at night.
But Austin says the only way to get out the oil and gas is with pressure.
“Gone are the days when you drill a hole and it just comes out,” I offered.
“Exactly, yeah we’re past those days; we’re way past those days. We’ve drilled so many holes in the earth that all the oil that was able to just pour out, that’s gone. Now we’ve moved on to bigger, better things, and start squeezing it out,” Austin said.
Which is what the sand is for. As far as the sand silos:
“It’s nothing to fear. It’s change, it’s the future. That’s what most every fracking company is going to. If not it’s where they’ve got to be in a few years. This is the safest way to do it. This is the cleanest way to do it,” Austin added.
He says it may not be a series of silos; that each company may design their own way to contain the dust.
Austin says when fracking companies start working they can be in place for a couple days or a couple months. He also says safety and EPA and OSHA guidelines are of paramount importance.