Officials investigate barrels dumped in San Gabriel River behind Joppa Church

STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS

Eight, 55-gallon barrels were dumped into the North Fork of the San Gabriel River just behind Joppa Church. Officials are asking for anyone with information about the illegal dumping to contact the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office or Hill Country Crime Stoppers. Courtesy photo by James Oakley

Eight, 55-gallon barrels were dumped into the North Fork of the San Gabriel River just behind Joppa Church. Officials are asking for anyone with information about the illegal dumping to contact the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office or Hill Country Crime Stoppers. Courtesy photo by James Oakley

JOPPA — Eight, 55-gallon barrels were dumped over a steep embankment earlier this month near Joppa Church, bouncing off trees along the way before splashing down in the North Fork of the San Gabriel River.

Burnet County law enforcement are searching for whomever is responsible.

“The disrespect level is off the charts that somebody would do something like this,” said Burnet County Judge James Oakley. “And we are treating this as a crime scene.”

County officials are awaiting tests to determine the substance in the barrels and quotes from an environmental cleanup company to remove the barrels from the riverbed.

“It’s bad enough if you’re just going to dump this on the side of the road, but it adds insult to injury to do it behind a church and into a waterway,” Oakley said.

The illegal dumping of eight, 55-gallon barrels was reported Aug. 5 to the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office. Someone dropped the barrels down a steep embankment just behind Joppa Church, 8425 CR 210. Courtesy photo by James Oakley

The illegal dumping of eight, 55-gallon barrels was reported Aug. 5 to the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office. Someone dropped the barrels down a steep embankment just behind Joppa Church, 8425 CR 210. Courtesy photo by James Oakley

The Burnet County Commissioners Court authorized Oakley during its Aug. 14 regular meeting to sign a contract with a disposal company. Because of the steep embankment, a crane will be needed to assist in the removal.

Burnet County Precinct 4 Constable Missy Bindseil said officials such as herself and Precinct 2 Constable Garry Adams have been constantly monitoring the area since it was reported Aug. 5 and conducting surveillance.

Local and state entities have been notified of the illegal dumping, but it does not seem like a public safety emergency at the moment. Oakley and Bindseil said the substance in the barrels appears to be hardened; however, they are awaiting tests to determine exactly what the substance is.

“We appreciate the public’s help with this and their understanding that we’re doing everything we can,” Bindseil said.

A few leads in the case have come in, Bindseil said. Anyone with information about the illegal dumping can contact Hill Country Crime Stoppers at (866) 756-8477 or hillcountryareacrimestoppers.com. Tips also can be left with the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 756-8080.

“Any information will be looked into,” Bindseil said. “This is very wrong.”

jared@thepicayune.com

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