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Leaking Barrels Still Puzzle Hunt County Officials

By Jack Fink, CBS 11 News
Greenville, TX in Hunt County. (Courtesy: Google Maps)

Greenville, TX in Hunt County. (Courtesy: Google Maps)

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CADDO MILLS (CBSDFW.COM) – On Wednesday, newly installed Hunt County Commissioner Jay Atkins called a roped-off area near the county’s Precinct 2 Road and Bridge Barn an active crime scene.

Acting on a tip, crews dug in the back of the yard at Farm to Market Road 36 North in Caddo Mills Wednesday and discovered the illegal dumping ground.

“It was a fairly large surprise for us,” Atkins said.

He said they discovered three leaking barrels that smelled of petroleum products, and added that there are more down there.

“I’m very concerned because I don’t know what these items are, what chemicals could possibly be down there,” Atkins said. “My concern is for the health and safety of my employees and the community my facility is located in.”

The site is right behind a residential neighborhood. Atkins wouldn’t reveal who he heard might have dumped the barrels there and why.

Last June, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) received a similar tip. But when the state came out and dug up parts of the property, they didn’t find anything.

“I’m a bit perturbed about it at the moment. Until I get a moment to speak to state officials and ask them what was going on last June, I’m going to reserve my comments till I speak with them directly,” Atkins said.

The TCEQ returned Thursday to investigate how many more barrels were dumped there.  They found no air quality issues, leaving the county with the cleanup responsibilities.

Atkins said residents should not be concerned about their drinking water. He said all of the homes are hooked up to Caddo Mills’ water system.

County officials could be seen going door-to-door in the neighborhood Thursday, assuring residents there are no problems and alerting them that excavation may soon begin across their back fences.  The county is making sure there are no private wells, just to be safe.