Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Triangle Chemical Site Showcases Reckless Environmental Attitudes

By:Duane Craig

Tucked away near Bridge City, Texas, is the Triangle Chemical Company Superfund site. The list of environmental issues here includes groundwater contaminated with volatile organic chemicals. Fish from the nearby Coon Bayou started dying in March 1976, and before it was over, there were seven fish kills leading up to 1982, all ostensibly from the VOCs that made their way into the bayou, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Evidence show no migration of groundwater contamination

Triangle mixed and blended chemicals on this two acre site from the early 1970s to 1981, according to the EPA’s 2006, five-year review. It made finished products from the chemicals, including industrial cleaning compounds, automotive brake fluid, windshield washer solvent, hand cleaners and pesticides. The finished products and the raw chemicals used in their manufacture were stored above ground in tanks. They were also stored in 55-gallon drums.

The EPA characterized the waste management practices at the site as poor during the years it operated. For example, there were deteriorating drums, and tanks that were simply leaking their contents onto the ground, creating future environmental issues. This contaminated the soils and the groundwater with the VOCs. The Texas Department of Water Resources (the forerunner to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) investigated the site in 1981and concluded Triangle had caused the fish kills by discharging hazardous waste into the bayou. TDWR took action requiring the company to “achieve compliance with pollution control laws and to prevent further untreated discharges from the site,” in August 1981. TDWR returned in October to find the site abandoned.

All told, there were 51,000 gallons of hazardous liquids, 1,095 55-gallon drums and 350 cubic yards of contaminated soil and trash left behind. Today, the site is cleaned up and in the monitoring stage. Evidence to date shows the groundwater contamination is not migrating.

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