Odessa City Council Passes Ordinance to Civilly Prosecute Illegal Dumpers

Odessa City Council Passes Ordinance to Civilly Prosecute Illegal Dumpers

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

ODESSA - In light of Roywell Services contributing to the biggest case of illegal dumping officials can remember, the city of Odessa is stepping in.

City Attorney, Larry Long first brought a proposal to the city council after xylene was found in the city's waste water plant, killing bacteria necessary for the purification process.

"When we realized this type of company was doing the dumping, then we realized with the number of companies such as this, we needed to take a more active role," he explained.

He said the city had already been able to bring criminal suits to those found dumping, but they felt limited to only being able to set punishments at a max of $2,000 a day.

Plus, they had no way of collecting compensation for damage that occurred to the plant or to the pipelines that were transporting the waste. So the City Council has passed an ordinance for them to be able to take legal action on anyone they find to be in violation of the Texas Water Code, which would allow them to collect for those damages and also give the city a chance to bring future cases to civil court for thousands more in fines.  

"This gives us the jurisdiction to react quicker. I think with anything that can be done on a local level is so much better because that way we can control it at our level," the District 2 Councilman, Dewey Bryant said.

According to Long,

"People were doing this because they viewed it as a simple cheap way to get around the law." But now the risk is greater. Civil damages could be up to $15,000 per day.

"I think it should make quite a bit of difference because once they realize that we have the teeth that this law provides us, I don't think they'll be willing to risk the exposure," Long said.

Ector County officials have also added efforts to combat the increasing cases of illegal dumping by expanding their environmental department. 

Long says they're still in the middle of investigating some recent dumpings. They say with multiple alien chemicals coming into the plant that shouldn't be in the past few years, they believe others are responsible too. But officials just hope that with the county tag-teaming their efforts, they'll be able to make violators think twice.