By: Duane Craig
The fourth, five-year review is nearing completion for the Crystal City Airport Superfund site, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If the previous reviews are any indication, this one should also show the remediation done there is protecting human health and the environment from its list of environmental issues.
This site is a reminder of the agricultural legacy of contamination that lives within the country from the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Back in the 1950s, there were aerial pesticide businesses operating from the site. These companies contracted with famers to spray their crops from the air with pesticides to kill a range of crop pests. The businesses mishandled the pesticide materials and improperly disposed of them, creating the environmental issues. In 1982, the companies declared bankruptcy and walked away from the mess, abandoning equipment and deteriorated drums.
The cleanup included removing 12,000 cubic yards of soil and placing it in a capped cell. There are public water wells nearby, and perhaps because they are so deep, 750 to 800 feet down, the contamination has not reached them. The site sits above the Carrizo Aquifer.
The contaminates in the soil included “arsenic compounds (1,450 ppm) and pesticides, specifically DDT (2,400 ppm) and toxaphene (1,100 ppm).” Crystal City is southwest of San Antonio and about 30 miles from the Mexican border.