By: Duane Craig
Patrick Bayou near Houston has a 20-year history of sediment contaminated with pesticides, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, metals, and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. Now this Superfund site is in line for a remedial investigation and feasibility study to determine the best remediation actions to pursue.
EPA to investigate next steps at Patrick Bayou
The study will be done by Shell, Lubrizol Corp. and Occidental Chemical Corp., the potential responsible parties for the contamination. Patrick Bayou drains into the Houston Ship Channel and is described as a three-mile-long tidal bayou connected upstream to the San Jacinto River. Along its edges, Shell, Occidental and Lubrizol have operations. Pollutants discovered in the bayou include chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, zinc, hexachlorobenzene, or HCB, bis-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, PAHs, and PCBs. Mercury levels were documented in the sediments as high as 8,300 ug/kg, with PCB levels ranging from 806 to 4,150 ug/kg. PAH levels were detected as high as 53,600 ug/kg.
Human consumption of the fish there has been restricted, and there were two fish kills in 1990. Still, people fish there and eat the fish. Contaminants have also been detected in bordering wetlands and are thought to threaten downstream fisheries. There were permitted wastewater discharges allowed by the state for a number of years, and it is believed those were the cause of much of the contamination.