By Joyce May
Killeen Daily Herald
GATESVILLE – State and local officials are investigating allegations that a Coryell County employee illegally dumped materials including oil and antifreeze on county property.
Coryell County Attorney Brandon Belt said Monday the investigation was initiated by a resident who submitted a complaint to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in addition to sending letters to The Gatesville Messenger and to officials with the City of Gatesville detailing the allegations and pointing the blame at Coryell County Roads Administrator Larry Roberts.
"On July 2, we were made aware of possible improper disposition of materials," Belt said.
Belt said the TCEQ is investigating the matter as is the Coryell County Sheriff's Office. He noted that Sheriff Johnny Burks, who was out of town and unavailable for comment Monday, indicated to him that he hopes to complete his investigation by July 23.
Smith Inland Environmental Services is assisting the sheriff's department with the investigation by performing soil analysis and other testing.
Belt said the incidents allegedly occurred at the county barn, which is located on U.S. Highway 84 west of Gatesville.
A TCEQ representative checked the county barn area and gave several procedural recommendations, but did not find anything that amounted to illegal dumping, Belt said.
"Nothing was found as far as what he has told me," Belt said.
The county attorney briefed commissioners Monday in executive session on the investigation and outlined possible actions the county may take if legal action was taken against it.
Belt said the county is cooperating with the investigation and that commissioners want to know if anything is going on so they can help "get to the bottom of it."
Commissioners also discussed Roberts' position in executive session, but took no action on the personnel matter or regarding the investigation afterward.
Belt said he had also heard rumors about possible pollutants in wells on Farm-to-Market 116, but said nothing in the part of the sheriff's investigation that he has reviewed thus far would connect the alleged dumping at the county barn to the wells.
Prosecution at the misdemeanor and felony levels is possible in addition to TCEQ state fines, Belt said.
Contact Joyce May at email@example.com or call (254) 547-0428