Month-long road closure expected

A pipeline break that spilled crude oil onto a county roadway has led to ongoing remediation projects and proved to be a disruption for some more than six months later.

The incident occurred last October in Precinct 1 within the 2700 block of Hillmont Road from a pipeline operated by Plains All American Pipeline.

The company is overseeing efforts to repair the damaged pipeline and remedy the surrounding area by dividing tasks into three phases. A partial closure of Hillmont Road between Sprague Road and Mary Francis Avenue has been required to complete each stage of remediation.

The final phase of the remediation process is currently underway and includes focusing on soil excavation, disposal of petroleum-hydrocarbon contaminated soil and restoration activities.

Camille Bryant, a remediation supervisor with Plains, stated in a memo to Ector County Commissioners last month that the company will conduct site restoration and paving of Hillmont Road that meets standards for both Ector County and the Texas Department of Transportation.

“There’s no cost (to the county) on this,” Highways and Streets Director Evans Kessey said. “Plains Pipeline is going to assume all costs relating to this crude oil that was spilled last year.”

However, some local businesses have taken a hit as a result of the pipeline break.

Red Roof Antiques store owner Maria Galindo said she was notified about the upcoming road work and is preparing to counter any effects it might have on her business.

Galindo said the road closure hinders customers from easily accessing the antique store and many assume the business is temporarily closed. She said she plans to make posts on Facebook and create physical signs to display in front of the property to let customers know they are still open.

“It’s something that has to be done and I hope they finish soon this time,” she said.

Road closures for the previously mentioned section of Hillmont Road have been authorized by the county and lasted between a few days to two months.

Yolanda Olguin, a former manager for Red Roof Antiques, was working when the first closure happened immediately following the pipeline leak.

“The street was closed in one area and people thought they couldn’t get through,” Olguin said. “It really affected our business. We weren’t even getting half of the customers we normally had.”

Plains estimates the road closure for the final phase of remediation will be in place until about mid-June. Upon completion of site activities, the company will distribute a report to the county and to the Railroad Commission of Texas.