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Abandoned Chevron well springs brine water on local rancher's property

Land owner Ashley Watt is concerned this blow out is leaking into her main water source.

CRANE COUNTY, Texas — Update: As of June 25, Watt says most of the cattle have been moved.

Four cows and two calves have died, and while she is not sure the cause of death she thinks it may be stress from moving combined with the summer heat. Watt says she will be asking a veterinarian as soon as she gets one to the site.

Chevron is still on the ranch, drilling down the wells and trying to figure out what's going on.

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A plugged up Chevron well that should've been out of commission has suddenly started spewing brine water onto Ms. Ashley Watt's property in Crane County.

The big concern is that this leak is contaminating the primary water source on her 22-thousand acre cattle ranch.

Not only is this impacting her, but also her staff and her 600 cattle.

"Any plant that it touched, it just killed instantly. It's really heavy, high salinity salt water," Watt said.

According to Watt, the water table is only about 53 feet below the surface.

"We use well water for everything on this ranch, for humans, for cattle, for everything and so to know that our well water is now likely contaminated, it's psychologically really tough," Watt said.

Watt believes this is just the beginning.

"The hypothesis is there's something in one of the reservoirs, there's too much pressure and too much salinity and it's eating through the metal and spreading and destroying old oil wells in a subterranean manner, so we think there are multiple wells that have major integrity issues across this ranch and we're just starting to find them because we're just starting to look," Watt said. "We just discovered it by chance, driving by."

Chevron sent one of their crews of 35 employees out to work on this problem, starting June 13.

"We take this really seriously. This is not the position we want to be in and we want to be responsible operators. We value our relationships with our landowners and our communities. We do not take that for granted and so when we have something like this happen, it's all hands on deck," said Kayleigh Dunn, Chevron's public and government affairs advisor.

But Watt says it was like pulling teeth to get them to come out to the site.

"Initially they didn't want to come out at all. They told us they'd get to it in a week or two and then we started stomping our feet and saying this is a very bad problem, you need to come out immediately and then at that point once they came out and looked at it they got a full crew on site," Watt said.

At this point, Watt just wants accountability and answers.

"We don't make a penny off the oil out here. We love the oil and gas industry, it's good for the basin and there are good operators, but what Chevron is doing right now is giving every operator a bad name," Watt said.

Right now, all that brine water is being diverted to tanks and Chevron says it'll take about nine more days to resolve this problem.

Their end goal here is to re-plug the well and come up with a remediation plan.

This isn't the first issue Watt's had on the property. She says back in 2002 she flushed her toilet and crude oil came up.

She is in the process of moving her cattle to another ranch division for about four weeks to quarantine them.

Watt also plans to bring in vets to make sure none of them are sick if they did in fact drink this brine water.

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