Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Dukes of Hazard: EPA Declares Two New Superfund Sites in Texas

View Texas Superfund Sites in a larger map

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named twelve new National Superfund sites in the country, with two of them in our very own Lone Star State. Superfund sites are polluted locations designated by the EPA as hazardous. The designation allows for the federal government to overhaul clean-up of the toxic sites and find parties financially liable for the contamination.

A Pasadena watershed and a well water site outside Forth Worth were both added to the “National Priorities” list, a distinction the EPA makes to say they intend to investigate the site even further. Just five percent of sites initially investigated by the EPA are added to the National Priorities List. Texas is home to 50 of the 1,315 National Priority sites. So where are these sites, and what happened there? Let’s take a look.

US Oil Recovery Site (Pasadena, Texas)

Pasadena’s watershed, Vince Bayou, has faced environmental threats from a waste management company called US Oil Recovery for almost ten years.

The Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has received multiple complaints about the company since 2003. According to media reports, it took until a little over a year ago for the company to pay more than $3 million in fines for reckless disposal of toxic waste around the watershed. The EPA report says the main threat to the area is during rainfall, when toxic chemicals drain into the bayou. The EPA worries poisons in the water will contaminate fishing populations that could eventually end up on someone’s dinner table.

Circle Court Ground Water Plume (Willow Park, Texas)

A spot in Willow Park, outside Forth Worth, is the second new Texas Superfund site. In a random test of the city’s water system back in 2006, officials discovered contaminates in a local well. Wells were closed down in response and the city installed carbon filters to provide safe drinking water. Though the problem is temporarily solved, there is no known cause of the contamination. David Bary of the EPA says in an email that the agency “is providing the funding for the remedial investigation since this site was identified as a groundwater contamination site with no identified source(s).”

It’s too early to tell how much recovery will cost for these sites, or how long the clean-ups will take. Now that the two sites have been identified as priorities, the next step is an extensive investigation so the EPA can get a clearer idea of the scope of the environmental damage.

You can see an interactive map of all the Superfund sites in Texas above.


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