August 30, 2019 [Caller Times] – Massive crude storage tanks under construction in the Calallen area have drawn concerns from residents and elected officials, while the company says it is doing what it can to address them.
Pct. 1 County Commissioner Carolyn Vaughn raised the issue while addressing Port of Corpus Christi CEO Sean Strawbridge during a Wednesday meeting. She said a town hall last week included questions from residents about several crude storage tanks under construction in Calallen, just north of U.S. Highway 77.
But Vaughn said the commissioners court had been unaware of the tanks being built by EPIC Crude Holdings LP as part of its crude pipeline project under construction until work began. “So we met out there and these crude storage tanks snuck in, and of course all of these people were very upset, and I was too, and the (county) judge (Barbara Canales) was, so we’re trying to help them,” Vaughn said.
“And I believe that EPIC has a good heart and they want to make right what they’ve done,” she continued. “They were wrong in what they did.” Strawbridge said the port was aware of EPIC ‘s plans to come to the Coastal Bend, but because the tanks are not on port property, “we didn’t have any visibility to that.”
“Should we have? Probably, and I’ll take that on,” he said. “You know, going forward, if there are investments that are being made in and around the Corpus Christi Ship Channel that have some appurtenances that are in the region, our people should probably know what the entire infrastructure portfolio looks like for those customers.”
“We did not know of that development – I had not been out there until this issue popped up on my radar just that very week, and certainly it’s something that was a lesson learned for us,” he continued.
Strawbridge said that EPIC has recognized that the company “got this wrong,” and was committed to fixing the issue to regain the community’s trust. “I think that’s a good first start,” he said.
What Epic Says About Project
Bruce Kates, a spokesman for EPIC, said the company has been in contact with local entities since last year about the project, particularly since a portion of the 500 acres on which the tanks sit had to be rezoned. He said the company also spoke with Canales a few weeks ago about the project.
Whenever company officials were asked to appear somewhere about the project, he said, they did so. Kates added he was unsure where the disconnect occurred, but that the company was committed to being good neighbors. “As far as we know, we were following everything we were supposed to do,” Kates said.
What Can Calallen Expect?
According to City of Corpus Christi records, the City Council discussed the project in closed session in November, but took no action. On March 26, the council approved the creation of a new industrial district for the site, as well as entered into a Chapter 212 agreement with EPIC.
None of the backup materials or documents, though, make specific mention of crude storage tank farms being constructed on the nearly 500 acres in question. The site is a short distance away from a fractionator complex the company is finishing work on in Robstown.
There will be 19 crude oil storage tanks that will be built on the land in question, but once construction is done, there will be no truck traffic, he said. The oil will be transported via pipeline to the Port of Corpus Christi, he said.
Construction began this year, and is scheduled for completion in January.
Kates said that the town hall meeting last week “was very helpful,” and allowed the company to hear concerns from residents that they have begun to address. Those include taking steps to mitigate dust from the construction site, collecting trash daily along Callicoate Road, and paying for off-duty sheriff’s deputies to monitor traffic along the road from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“We’re going to be their neighbors, so we want it to be as nice as it can be,” he said.
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