Harris County Sues AT&T for Leaky Underground Fuel Tanks

If you don’t live close to one of the locations marked with a red ‘X’ in the map above, you shouldn’t feel left out: There have been more than 3,900 documented instances of leaking underground fuel-storage tanks in Harris County, each of which poses “a risk to the nation and County’s drinking water,” according to filings in a new lawsuit. The locations on the map show only 13 of the 34 such leaky tanks belonging to telecom giant AT&T — they’re the ones the company admits have been polluting groundwater “with gasoline and hazardous substances . . . known to cause harm and adverse health effects.” The Harris County Attorney’s office filed suit against the telecom giant for neglecting its leaky-fuel-tank problem yesterday, citing a settlement in a similar case against the same company in California a few years back that netted a $25 million settlement.

Map: Harris County Attorney

15 Comment

  • This is great. I’m so glad that insidious, hidden pollution is being discovered & prosecuted.
    Props to Public Servants!!
    Now, to prevent this sort of thing BEFORE it occurs…
    Currently Montgomery County is fighting a potential ground-water disaster in the form of waste injection wells, hastily approved by the scummy TCEQ, blocked for now by TxDOT, and currently in the hands of our regional Public Servants.
    See: stopthetoxicwells@peoplepc.com

  • DNRTFA but…
    Why does AT&T have a bunch of fuel tanks underground all over the place?

  • We don’t need no STINKIN’ EPA! VOTE GOP!

  • @cody, the fuel tanks are for the myriad of phone company trucks you see everywhere. They buy the gas wholesale and have their own fueling stations. It saves them a ton of money. Of course, the real gas stations replaced their tanks years ago. It’s about time the rest of the fueling stations were looked at. And, honestly, AT&T should have taken care of this much earlier.

  • Cody – My guess is that it’s for feeding that huge fleet they’ve got – offhand, I don’t recall ever having seen a phone truck in a gas station. Shoot, the farmer members of my family used to have their own tanks, too.

  • Mollusk: crazy. I never knew that. Thanks (even if it’s just an educated guess :)

  • (thank you Ross as well)

  • It’s not only for their regular trucks, but greatly so, for their disaster recovery. http://www.slashgear.com/att-mobility-network-disaster-recovery-slashgear-exclusive-1337635/

  • Wow, I live within a minute of two of the former sites. I hated AT&T for their cell service already… now I hate them even more for polluting the water I drink.

  • Most of Houston gets it’s drinking water from Lake Houston. It’s full of old cars, batteries and tires. There’s no need to worry about a little gasoline in the groundwater. :)

  • Any word on when our Gov. plans to intervene to help these job creators?

  • Yeah like the GOP (greedy old people) will ever make anything better, who cares about the public health when there is a buck to be made. Republicans are so short sighted, well most are…

  • @jgriff – yes, Houston’s water comes from (yucky) Lake Houston, but, it is heavily treated before it gets to the tap.
    At greatest risk are country homes, towns, schools and businesses that rely on well water.
    It’s a sad day when everyone & everything is dying from living is the world. We should all assemble our respiratory mask, bio-hazard suit, UV filter and Faraday cage right now!

  • Houston’s water comes from (yucky) Lake Houston, but, it is heavily treated before it gets to the tap.

    The groundwater where I live is contaminated. I get notifications about it occasionally. I live just outside Bunker Hill. There are testing wells all over our neighborhood. Our neighbors flip out when they get a notification about it.

  • From movocelot:
    This is great. I’m so glad that insidious, hidden pollution is being discovered & prosecuted.
    Props to Public Servants!!


    They are being sued not prosecuted. They should be prosecuted. At least whoever within AT&T who made the decision that the potential fine/judgement would be less expansive for the customers of AT&T, who always pay the fine/judgement, that replacing the tanks. Welcome to the real America. Where some banks are too big to fail. And some corporations are too big to indict. The few that are indicted no doubt have agreed to a “settlement” prior to the actual indictment. Part of the “dog and pony” show our various “justice” systems like to put on to convince everyone that they are there to protect the public interest. Actually they’re there to protect the private interest from the public interest. To keep the public interest from hanging the private interest from the nearest tree.