Game camera catches spill by oil truck

SAN ANTONIO — The mystery of a truck spill that closed two roads in March may have been solved — by a game camera.

An oil-field truck lost its load in Karnes County in the early morning hours of March 10, closing much of FM 81 and FM 1144 for days. The truck trailed the liquid across nine miles.

“We had some angry, angry people in Karnes County because of that,” said Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, said the Karnes County Sheriff’s Department identified a company in Falfurrias that owns the truck, but the company denies responsibility for the spill.

“Railroad Commission staff in the Oil & Gas District Office in San Antonio is currently evaluating enforcement referral for the incident,” said Railroad Commission spokeswoman Ramona Nye by email. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state’s environmental agency, is also investigating.

Villanueva said deputies interviewed residents along the two roads. One had a game camera that caught a black-and-white image of the truck.

Game cameras are common across South Texas’ hunting ranches, but are also used sometimes at ranch gates or homes for security.

“When this happened I never thought we would have cleared it,” Villanueva said. “I was amazed. Everything came together.”

San Antonio’s SWS Environmental Services cleaned up the spill —  applying sand to the road to absorb the liquid, sweeping it into piles, vacuuming it up and putting it into containers for disposal.

FM 81 reopened after two days and FM 1144 reopened after three days.

Karnes County is in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale field and is the state’s top producer of crude oil. Last year, the county yielded up more than 56 million barrels of oil, which are often transported by truck.

“Every day we see an oil spill, like a streak of it,” Villanueva said. “This was miles of it.”

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