Abandoned Places, Sierra Blanca, Texas
Sierra Blanca Chamber of Commerce
I have passed through the little town of Sierra Blanca just off interstate 10 many times before and never stopped. I decided to take a quick break and explore the historic buildings in town and found out all but a few building were left in operation. The historic railside hotel, church, chunk wagon restaurant, gas station and adobe theater were abandoned. After a little research, below is what I found and a good reason the town is mostly abandoned.
In the early 1990s a waste-disposal company based in Oklahoma purchased more than 90,000 acres near Sierra Blanca, and in the summer of 1992 trains began arriving with treated sewage from New York City; an average of 225 tons a day was dumped there. In February 1992 the state of Texas selected Sierra Blanca as the site of a low-level radioactive-waste depository. Many area citizens were critical of the sludge dump and of the proposed radioactive-waste facility, citing the potential health hazards, and in the mid-1990s a local citizens' group was trying to fight the disposal projects. The population was 533 in 2000 with thirty-three businesses.
In 1992, after dumping began, the people of Sierra Blanca began to complain of the odor. "The chemical odors coming off the application area are not just a nuisance and a trespass, they're a health hazard. Hydrogen sulfide and ammonia vapors mixed with a fecal smell are indescribable except to say that it smells like death. But odor wasn't the only problem, "We noticed strange rashes and blisters in the mouth, more flu, more colds, more allergies, and asthma since they came. We've seen a lot more sickness - especially with the kids." says a local resident. Another resident said her children have had a large number of unexplained medical conditions. [read more]