(EnviroNews Utah) – Hailed by many as our nation’s most poisoned hotbed of source-polluting industry, and, by and large, due to the republican-dominated, lop-sided legislature, the state of Utah has become a free-for-all fiesta for mineral barons and the profiteers of environmental waste. The topic of oil and gas leftovers brings us to what once was a relatively small, and unlined earthen disposal-pit, located deep within the vast bosom of the Uintah Basin.
Closed and abandoned for many years, this little tar-scar that once was, is now a gigantic and stinking multi-tiered series of waste ponds that carry the rather innocuous name of Integrated Water Management
As one becomes familiar with the intricacies of the oil and gas business, one thing that raises the eyebrow about this waste operation in particular, is the apparent cheap and hap hazardous corner-cutting path to profit that IWM has employed. Often times, in state of the art evaporation-style treatment facilities waste is frequently rotated from one pond to another in an oxygenation effort that attempts to reduce noxious and foul odors. Even some oilfield experts that we spoke to off the record, privately referred to the Duchesne operation in terms such as rinky-dink and outdated.
Integrated Water Management has recently shot onto the radar screen of the local media as dozens of outraged citizens, including many politically conservative residents who even support their families by working in local oilfields, have voiced complaints of outrage regarding the horrendous and sickening smell of the facility. A smell they contest causes health problems and describe as “nauseating, foul, sulfuric, and like a bad outhouse.”
Local reporters keyed us in on the fact that the company has been leveraging down with legal power on inspection panels in an attempt to have an upcoming olfactory review moved to a later date during winter months. Due to the low level of evaporation that occurs in the chilly atmosphere of the Uintah Basin during the winter, measurable airborne contaminants would be at their lowest during the year, which residents have pointed out, skews the numbers in IWM’s favor.
What has sparked controversy amongst inner circles is who is behind the company. A Freedom of Information Act request and an in-house records search have revealed that the company’s founders and present-day controllers are some of Utah’s most prominent and powerful Mormon business men: Walter Plumb III of the Boyer Gardner Rocky Mountain real estate empire, alongside of the Republican Party’s outspoken heir to the presidential candidacy, Josh Romney.
At the same time, JT Martin, (who conveniently enough is the son-in-law of head-haunch Kem Gardiner of Boyer Gardiner), is the plant manager down at Integrated Water Management, and according to one local reporter who wished to remain anonymous due to fear of backlash, Martin and Integrated Waste Management have blatantly denied the notion that Josh Romney is involved with the company. Continuing in our conversation with the journalist, we also ascertained that the company has now declared the reporter a hostile threat and her journalism biased, and has refused any further dialog or contact. Despite this notion, according to our research, the journalist in question has had a long track record of fair and respectable reporting with a variety of different publications.
Despite these reported denials of Romney involvement put forth by JT Martin, and Integrated Water Management, what we uncovered reveals that Josh Romney, and Walter Plumb III were among the founding members of the Utah-based LLC, registered back in 2010, and information leaked to us via these same sources, reveals that both men maintain interest in the oil waste disposal plant.
The plot thickened late last summer when the mounting number of citizen complaints led to the TriCounty Health Department suggesting that the Duchesne County Planning Commission put forth a public hearing to examine if the company was in compliance with the odor control parameters laid out in their conditional use permit. Regarding the September hearing, that same anonymous reporter told us, and certainly something we can understand here at EnviroNews, is that when she arrived at the public meeting, she was expecting to see, as we often see, 3 or 4 people in the crowd muttering out a few points of concern while the issue at hand, flies quietly over the heads of the general populous. However, in her words, what she walked into this time was a huge surprise as she looked at the totally packed house, filled to the gills with outraged citizens figuratively on the brink of bringing out their pitch forks!
Local Uintah Basin Standard reporter Deborah Tracey who broke a story regarding Integrated Water Management back in September of this year used these words in her article describing what she witnessed at the meeting: “After a very heated three-hour meeting which at times threatened to erupt”….and “When J.T. Martin first stood to address both the commission and the audience with a PowerPoint presentation about IWM, the gathering threatened to turn unruly when two people shouted out, including one woman who yelled, “You’re killing us!”
The fiasco was furthered when at a follow up meeting days later, the attorneys of IWM cried and pouted about the rules of order not being enforced at the first public comment meeting, and were able to get the event successfully postponed until a later date, swearing up and down that it was not using any stalling tactics. The drama was exacerbated when JT Martin, claiming a threat to his personal safety asked for a police escort to his truck.
Now, there are several oil companies such as Bill Barrett Corp., EP Production Company (formerly El Paso), as well as other area operators, that are benefiting from the convenience of doing business with IWM as they huck-and-chuck their pillaged waste by the wayside, laughing all the way to the bank on the back of sick local citizens. To the disgruntlement of many local residents, and oil industry workers, JT Martin has openly and publically chastised these same oil producers, his own companies customers that is, as being the parties responsible for the waste, and the smell.
Throughout our vigorous mining operation of data and information surrounding this story, another nasty little tidbit of information came our way via our oil-industry correspondents, that reveals that one of the consultants, who has been instrumental in heralding the Romney, Plum and Gardner families oil-business entry and involvement, is a well-known, convicted, and formerly imprisoned child-molester by the name of Cliff Murray.
Upon deeper investigation into the public-records and portfolios of the father/son duo of Mitt and Josh Romney, what we discovered wasn’t much of a surprise. I’m sure no one will be dismayed to hear that this duo’s business ventures are not generally leaving any green footprints behind, but instead are stamping carbon and chemical-waste tracks throughout the USA and the whole world. From Russia’s Gazprom and China’s Cnooc, to his instrumental role in the pivotal leap of Monsanto out of the chemical industry and into the BAINCHILD leap into the realm of genetically modified foods and what has been widely chastised as a world food supply domination scheme.
All in all it seems like the Romney’s are in cahoots with some very dubious characters. From pit to pond, this operation stinks to high heaven of daddy’s dirty money.