Harrison County ranchers feel oil leak killed their cattle

By Bob Hallmark - email

HARRISON COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - It was a gruesome discovery for some Harrison County cattle ranchers when a number of their stock were mysteriously found dead.

The ranch is a lease property off of FM 2879, about 6 miles north of Longview.

"I found one calf dead. I come on over, and I found two more dead, and I've got eleven missing," Bev Davis tells us.

"We were shocked, and then we didn't know what was wrong," says Alice Davis.

The Davis' lease the land to graze cattle.

An exploration company has a gas well on the land. It's a transfer line that helps the natural gas and oil. The Davis' suspect the problem is the well tank that overflowed into a retaining area.

While were there, there was a thick odor of petroleum at the site, and the Davis' are positive that their cattle got in and drank whatever was in that well.

"There's cow tracks all over and around this well site, and they were drinking it. Why they were drinking it, I don't know," Bev told us.

This was not a spill, well site overseers tell us. They say a dump valve stuck, which happens quite often, causing the fluid to overflow.

In a statement today, the exploration company says, "We have met with the Davis family and are working with them to settle the matter."

"All I want to do is what's right and fair. Market price for my cows is all I'm asking...I just can't afford to lose this kind of money for something that's not my fault....We've worked hard for these cattle."

The cattle guard, designed to keep cows out, was filled with dirt and sediment, and davis says it could easily be crossed.

"This should have been fixed where the cows couldn't get in here."

An environmentalist is investigating how the cows died.

The Davis' say they have been informed that the company will bury the dead cattle.

So far, no word on what compensation the Davis family will receive, if any - and the site has been cleaned up.