Thursday, January 26, 2012

Corpus Superfund Site Nears Cleanup

By: Duane Craig

The Brine Service Company Superfund Site in Corpus Christi, Texas, moves a step closer to having its list of environmental issues addressed with the completion of its Phase 2 report.

This site is about six miles west of the downtown area along the north side of Interstate 37 near Goldston Road. From the mid-1940s through the 1960s, Brine disposed of wastes in a couple of pits on the property. The environmental issues didn’t come to light until 1997 when a pipeline company that was laying pipe to connect two refineries unearthed waste including barium, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury, as well as several organic compounds. The organic compounds identified included naphthalene, phenanthrene, benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene, xylenes, 2,4-dimethylphenol, acenaphthene, 2-methylphenol (o-cresol), 3&4 methylphenol (m&p cresol), and phenol.

Water draining from the site eventually ends up in Tule Lake before flowing out to the Corpus Christi harbor and bay. Tule Lake is quite shallow and is a wildlife sanctuary that is home to various aquatic birds, including several listed on the state’s threatened species list. The bay supports commercial and recreational fishing.

The Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) that is underway will include an assessment of the risks the site poses to the environment and to humans. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry completed a health consultation on the site in late 2003. At that time, it found no conclusive evidence the site was endangering the public, except for those people whose wells had levels of arsenic that would end up exceeding safe levels in 2006 because of a planned lowering of the maximum contaminant level in that year. There were 15 wells where that was the case.

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