Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

PETRO-CHEMICAL SYSTEMS, INC. (TURTLE BAYOU)
LIBERTY, TX

Cleanup Activities

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Background

The 500+ acre Petro-Chemical Systems, Inc. site is located in Liberty County, Texas. County Road (CR) 126 traverses the site. Site operations started prior to 1970 and continued until the late 1970s. Operators dumped waste oils on CR 126 and into unlined waste pits along the road. These operations contaminated the road, surface soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals. EPA has identified seven disposal areas across the site in addition to CR 126. After 1974, the land was developed and subdivided into residential properties. Following construction of the remedy in six of the seven areas of the site, operation and maintenance activities are ongoing. Evaluation of the extent of contamination in the seventh area of the site is ongoing.

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What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through federal, state and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions. EPA has conducted three five-year reviews of the site’s remedy. These reviews ensure that the remedies put in place protect public health and the environment, and function as intended by site decision documents. The most recent review conducted in 2016 concluded that response actions at the site are in accordance with the remedy selected by EPA and that the remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment in the short term.  The fifth five-year review of the site's remedy will be conducted in 2021.

Local residents and businesses in the site area are now safe from direct contact and dust inhalation of CR 126 wastes. Remedial activities are cleaning up the area, making sure it will be fully protective for people living on site now or in the future.

Continued protectiveness of the remedy requires the following actions to be taken as identified in the fourth five-year review report:

  • Evaluate the protectiveness of the groundwater protection standards for 1,1-dichloroethane, acetone and naphthalene in light of current toxicity values or drinking water criteria.
  • Evaluate the technical impracticability (TI) and Compliance Zone boundaries southwest of the Main Waste Area (MWA) and Office Trailer Area (OTA) in the vicinity of MW-035 and evaluate whether the TI boundary and compliance boundary needs to be expanded in the vicinity of this well
  • Install a well south of MW-161 in the MW-10 subarea of the Office Trailer Area to monitor any plume expansion before it reaches the TI boundary.
  • Complete the implementation of remaining institutional controls at all parcels impacted by the Site.
  • Establish a TI waiver once the groundwater contamination delineation is completed at the MW-109 Area

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site’s long-term remedy included the excavation, backfilling and rebuilding of CR 126. Residents were relocated during this period. Construction of this part of remedy took place in 1988. CR 126 was resurfaced in 2010 to meet County specifications.  A Memorandum of Agreement between the EPA and the County was signed in January 2011 and the County has assumed responsibility for the operations and maintenance of CR 126.  In a few areas of the site, institutional controls are in place to ensure appropriate non-residential reuse. In other areas of the site, institutional control plans are being developed.   In six areas of the site long-term groundwater monitoring is taking place to ensure contaminant migration outside these areas does not occur. In these areas, operation and maintenance activities, including groundwater sampling, are ongoing. In the seventh area, MW-109 area, of the site, soil treatments have addressed the source of contaminants; this part of the cleanup finished in 2008. This area is currently being evaluated for extent of groundwater contamination.

The Fourth Five Year Review for the site was completed in August 2016..

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EPA’s Involvement at the Site

Site operations started prior to 1970 and continued until the late 1970s. After 1974, the land was developed and subdivided into residential properties. In 1986, EPA installed a fence and conducted sampling. In 1988, CR 126 was excavated, backfilled and rebuilt; residents were relocated during this period. Cleanup finished in six areas of the site by 2008. Characterization of the extent of contamination continues in the seventh area.  CR 126 was resurfaced in 2010 to meet County specifications.  A Memorandum of Agreement between the EPA and the County was signed in January 2011 and the County has assumed responsibility for the operations and maintenance of CR 126. 

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Activity and Use Limitations

At this site, activity and use limitations that EPA calls institutional controls are in place. Institutional controls play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use. They also guide human behavior. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent land uses – such as residential uses – that are not consistent with the level of cleanup.

For more background, see Institutional Controls.

EPEC has purchased several properties and has institutional controls in place at other properties. These controls grant EPEC groundwater rights across those properties and/or restrict land use for those properties.

 As of February 2005, Lyondell acquired all contaminated properties in the WRA, MWA, OTA and EA. It restricted access to these areas such that residential use does not occur. Since acquiring these properties, Lyondell’s bankruptcy was finalized, and the Lyondell Trust was established in March 2010. Access to
Lyondell disposal areas is controlled by a combination of fences, gates, signs, cable guards and natural barriers. Signs are posted at access locations, which indicate that there may be chemicals on the property and that digging and drilling are restricted to protect human health and the environment. Institutional controls for the Lyondell Trustee properties are in the process of being implemented. 

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Sampling and Monitoring

EPEC and Lyondell Trustee’s Contractors continue with the ground water monitoring as per the long term monitoring plan. Plans are underway for additional work to delineate the contaminated groundwater plume in the MW-109 area.

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