EPA confirms leak at Brio waste site [update]
Clear Lake's Brio Superfund site at Dixie Farm Road and Beamer is leaking contaminants, but the Environmental Protection Agency says the contaminant plume is more than 50 feet underground, isn't impacting air quality and doesn't pose an immediate threat.
You may remember that the 59-acre hazardous-waste site near San Jacinto College South was found to be so contaminated two decades ago that a Clear Creek elementary school and over 600 homes in a nearby neighborhood were torn down.
The Journal of Friendswood's Ivee Sauls reports:
EPA Superfund Remedial Project Manager Gary Miller said the contaminant plume is not a threat to residents, but also said further testing is being done to determine the extent of the contamination.
It's my understanding that there aren't any water wells down in that area and our sampling so far has just been on the site," Miller told The Journal. But based on that now, we don't know how far it's gone. That's part of the investigation that's going to be done. Initial indications are that it hadn't moved very far, very fast."
Read more from the Journal.
Today the city of Friendswood e-mailed out this notification to its residents, citing information it's received from the EPA:
The leak is located on the Brio site, and is in excess of 50 feet below the surface.
The leak has had no impact on air quality. There are air sampling devices onsite that are being monitored.
The contamination was detected as a result of routine monitoring and testing by onsite contractors.
The contamination does not pose an immediate threat to residents. Monitoring of the site is ongoing by contractors and City officials will continue to coordinate with them.
Some background on the Brio site from the Houston Chronicle:
The Brio site was placed on the federal Superfund list of the nation's worst hazardous waste sites in 1989. Pollutants at the Brio site included styrene tars, vinyl chloride, chlorinated solvent residues, metallic catalyst and fuel oil residues.
The Brio site had been home to a succession of companies from 1956 to 1982, when the last of them, Brio Refinery, went bankrupt. The Brio site was built as a chemical reprocessing facility for materials, primarily petroleum chemicals that were to be reused in other industries.
When the Brio cleanup was declared complete in 2003, the Houston Chronicle's Ruth Rendon talked to the EPA:
Mike House, project coordinator for the Brio Site Task Force, described the containment as a bathtub with a lid.
The area now contains a layer of clay 45 feet deep that is tied to an underground barrier wall that extends 7,500 feet around the site.
The cover, or lid, over the entire area is made up of a gas collection layer, an impermeable flexible membrane, a layer of compacted clay and a vegetative cover. The cover will prevent infiltration of rainwater and capture any emissions that may be present, House said.
Read more the Houston Chronicle's archives. Nov. 14, 2003: Brio cleanup completed after 14 years.
1956: Brio site built as chemical reprocessing facility.
1982: Brio Refinery Inc. went bankrupt, leaving contaminated earthen pits.
March 1989: Site placed on federal Superfund list.
April 1991: Incineration approved as method of cleanup.
March 1992: Nearby Arlyne Weber Elementary School closed.
April 1994: Cleanup halted; more tests ordered.
January 1997: Adjacent Southbend subdivision and Weber Elementary School razed.
March 1999: Containment cleanup started.
November 2003: Containment project completed.
December 2006: Site taken off national priorities list of sites needing further cleanup.