Remote West Texas Gets A New 80 Acre Landfill To Serve Its Expanding Oil Industry

By Mitch Borden

The oil field waste disposal industry in the Permian Basin is growing fast, as the oil and gas industry continues to see an upswing in production. As more and more oil wells are drilled more toxic by-products are being created.

A pumpjack at sunset in West Texas. ( Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

Things like, according to Gabriel Rio, “The rock and ground up stone that comes up the well when you’re drilling it. That’s the solid waste that needs to be managed that’s usually contaminated with hydrocarbons and salts. So it needs to be managed carefully.”

Rio is the president and CEO of Milestone Environmental Services, a Texas waste disposal company. To meet the growing demand for waste disposal facilities in the region his company is opening an 80-acre landfill in Northern Reeves County near Orla, Texas.

According to Rio, the oil waste management industry is growing faster than the oil and gas industry. That’s because he says, more companies in the Permian Basin are realizing it’s more effective to let specialists handle their waste.

“As companies get larger as we see consolidation they are much more conscious of those environmental liabilities and how to properly manage those waste streams to avoid contamination and avoid liability and cleanups down the road.”

Rio said Milestone Environmental Services’ new landfill will open later this year. He expects it’ll take decades for it to reach capacity.

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