Thursday, August 16, 2018

GALVESTON BAY 2018 REPORTED CARD

GALVESTON BAY 2018 REPORTED CARD

GRADE C

That Galveston Bay could receive C for overall health despite facing these monumental issues shows how resilient it is. It offers hope that we can continue to make changes in the way we live to lessen the negative impact on water quality, habitat like wetlands and seagrasses, and wildlife. 

Galveston Bay is a vibrant, resilient ecosystem, but faces an uncertain future. The Bay’s watershed is home to the fifth largest city in the U.S., Houston. It is also home to three ports, and remains a hub for the manufacturing and refining of chemicals and petroleum products. However, people, industry, and commerce often come with environmental challenges. Galveston Bay’s most significant problems are tied to pollution, declines in habitat acreage, and the impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise.

That Galveston Bay could receive a grade of C for overall health despite facing these monumental issues shows how resilient it is. This offers hope that we can change our negative impact on water quality, wetlands, seagrasses, and wildlife. But a healthier Galveston Bay is in everyone’s interest.

(About the grade: The combined GPA for all six categories together is a 2, which registers in the low C range. Unfortunately, the combined grade does not include grades for three of our indicators: Litter and Trash, Wetlands and Oyster Reef Acreage - There were not enough data available on these indicators to include them in the overall grade. We hope you will join us in encouraging local, state, and national leaders to pass legislate on, and provide funding, that will improve monitoring and address these issues.



https://www.galvbaygrade.org/


TSS

Thursday, April 12, 2018

EPA Announces San Jacinto River Waste Pits Cleanup Action

Subject: EPA Announces San Jacinto River Waste Pits Cleanup Action

News Releases


News Releases from Region 06

EPA Announces San Jacinto River Waste Pits Cleanup Action

04/09/2018
Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard (R6Press@epa.gov)
214 665-2200
DALLAS – (April 9, 2018) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that an agreement has been reached with International Paper Company and McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corporation to perform a remedial design for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site selected remedy. The selected cleanup action addresses the potential dangers posed by dioxin contamination at the site in Harris County, Texas.
“This agreement marks the next step in my commitment to the people of Harris County to expedite the remediation of the San Jacinto Waste Pits site,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA will ensure that the remedial design removes all the contamination as quickly and safely as possible and permanently protects the health and safety of the surrounding communities and the San Jacinto River.”
The EPA’s cleanup plan, with support from state partners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, includes installing engineering controls before excavating approximately 212,000 cubic yards of dioxin contaminated material for disposal. The estimated cost for the remedy is $115 million, representing a reasonable value for the cost incurred.
The agreement is a result of expedited negotiations between EPA and representatives from both International Paper Company and McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corporation for design of the cleanup. The remedial design is estimated to take about 29 months to complete to ensure waste is safely and properly contained during construction and removal. The design work will be performed by the companies under the oversight of EPA and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The current quarterly cap inspection and maintenance program will continue while the remedial design is being completed.
EPA’s decision is based on extensive studies of the contamination, and human health and environmental risks of this site. The final cleanup plan considers the ever-changing San Jacinto River, which encroaches on the site, while protecting important downstream resources including the Galveston Bay estuary.
EPA added the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites in 2008 after testing revealed contamination from dioxins and furans near the waste pits. The site consists of two sets of impoundments, or pits, built in the mid-1960s for disposing solid and liquid pulp and paper mill wastes that are contaminated with dioxins and furans.
While the remedial design is ongoing, the U.S. Department of Justice and EPA will begin negotiations with the potential responsible parties to enter into a consent decree regarding construction of the remedy.
The San Jacinto Waste Pits site is included on EPA’s Superfund Task Force list of sites targeted for priority action. These sites require timely resolution of specific issues to expedite cleanup and redevelopment efforts.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Dickinson bayou, tidal flow rate, gum bayou, and drainage

Dickinson bayou, tidal flow rate, gum bayou, and drainage

Once the pumps are installed Bayridge, gum bayou opened up, water gets to Dickinson bayou, what next? With another event such as Harvey, once you get water to Dickinson bayou, with said improvements, minus no improvements to tidal movements of Dickinson bayou, will there be any overall change? My guess is that this will be a very costly experiment, when previous studies has shown that DICKINSON BAYOU NEEDS TO BE DREDGED AND CLEANED OUT. Imo, you need to drain straight to bay via 96 and 646, improve existing drainage to correct the back flow from bay...

DICKINSON BAYOU WATERSHED REGIONAL DRAINAGE PLAN PHASE III

COMBINATION ALTERNATIVE SUPPLEMENT TO PHASE n PRELIMINARY ALTERNATIVE DESIGN REPORT PREPARED FOR: GALVESTON COUNTY, TEXAS AND THE TEXAS WATER DEVELOPMENT BOARD PREPARED BY: WALSH ENGINEERING, INC. In Association with: DODSON & ASSOCIATES, INC. VAZQUEZ ENVmONMENTAL SERVICES, INC. and VERNON G. HENRY & ASSOCIATES, INC. 

PRELIMINARY DRAFT FOR REVIEW May 30,1994

The results from the HEC-l analysis using the rain gage data produced a peak flow rate of 38,000 cfs (at State Highway 146) as compared to a flow rate of 27,000 cfs predicted for a 24-hour, 100-year storm. This indicates that the overall rainfall totals for the Dickinson Bayou watershed were well above levels associated with a lOO-year frequency storm event. A study of the existing conditions in the watershed and in Dickinson Bayou and its tributaries was completed to update the lOO-year flood plain boundary and identify the current potential for flooding damage. The complete study is presented in two reports: «Dickinson Bayou Regional Drainage Plan: Hydraulic Baseline Report' (August 1992) and «Dickinson Bayou Regional Drainage Plan: Supplement to Phase I Hydraulic Baseline Report' (October 1993). A brief summary of the results of the study are presented here. A lOO-year storm, a rainfall event that has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year, would produce a total of approximately 13 inches of rain over a 24-hour period. If this storm occurred over the Dickinson Bayou watershed, the results as shown in Exhibit 5 are predicted to occur. Approximately 35,000 acres, or 55 % of the watershed area, would be in the flood plain. The depth of water would vary from inches at the fringes of the flood plain to almost 18 feet deep along Dickinson Bayou upstream of Cemetery Road. Most minor road crossings would be overtopped and major roadways such FM 517 at Dickinson Bayou and Gum Bayou, Cemetery Road at Ditch 90, State Highway 3 at Benson Bayou, FM 646 at Benson Bayou and Gum Bayou, and FM 1266 at West Gum Bayou would also be overtopped. The main bridges of Interstate Highway 45 and State Highway 6 would remain passable for all traffic from the area and also from Galveston Island if an evacuation was ordered. The cost of flood damages as a result of a 100-year storm occurring in 1993 is estimated to be $97,051,100. A breakdown of this estimated cost is presented in Table 8.

SNIP...

Preliminary Combination AlfernaHve Number 3 The City of League City Master Drainage Plan included regional detention facilities in the Bensons Bayou and Gum Bayou watersheds_ In order to provide coordination with the League City plan, Combination Alternative Number 3 includes full detention for these two tributaries_ Other aspects of this alternative are identical to Combination Alternative Number 2. The HEC-l hydrologic analysis of this alternative indicates that, because of timing effects, regional detention in the Bensons Bayou watershed actually increases IOO-year peak flow rates in Dickinson Bayou. Therefore, regional detention is not recommended for this tributary. For Gum Bayou, the regional detention facility provides a decrease in IOO-year peak flow rates in Dickinson Bayou. However, these peak flow rates are already well below existing levels because of the presence of other regional detention basins throughout the Dickinson Bayou watershed. In addition, the reach of Dickinson Bayou below the Gum Bayou confluence is subject to inundation by the IOO-year storm surge from Galveston Bay. Therefore, the incremental cost of regional detention in the Gum Bayou watershed does not provide any significant incremental benefit in the form of flood plain reduction. 

SNIP...

CONCLUSION OF ANALYSIS

The following conclusions may be drawn from the results of the alternatives analysis. 1) The Channelization/Diversion Alternative has the lowest cost, but will involve the greatest environmental damage and thus the highest environmental mitigation cost. 

2) The No-Action Alternative clearly involves the highest total cost and the greatest flooding potential of the five alternatives. 

3) The Non-Structural, Detention, and Combination Alternatives are comparable in terms of cost, but the Non-Structural Alternative will create the least amount of environmental damage. 

4) The Channelization/Diversion, Detention, and Combination Alternatives leave far smaller amounts of residual flood plain than the No-Action and Non-Structural Alternatives, thus providing the greatest potential for future development and economic growth. 

5) The Non-Structural Alternative will result in major losses in taxable property by rendering the flood plain undevelopable and under public ownership. The amount of developable acreage left in the watershed under this alternative may not be adequate to support the cost of the plan. 

6) The Combination Alternative will probably be the most effective in terms of meeting the goals of lowering the total cost, reducing the residual flood plain and potential flood damages, increasing the potential for economic development and the capacity to fund a regional drainage plan, and providing environmental safeguards.  

SNIP...

As expected, the No-Action, Non-Structural, and Detention Al- RECOMMENDATION ternatives have a very high cost per net acre when compared to the Channelization and Combination Alternatives. In addition, the implementation of these alternatives is unlikely due to unacceptable socioeconomic and environmental concerns. The Channelization/Diversion Alternative is approximately 25% cheaper than the Combination Plan. However, the Channelization/Diversion Alternative is not likely to be implemented, for the following reasons: 

• Extremely wide right-of-way for channel expansion will be required; 

• Residential property and business will have to be displaced to make room for channel improvements; 

• A large initial cost is involved which is difficult to divided into phases; 

• The environmental impact to sensitive areas may be significant enough to be unacceptable to regulatory entities; 

• The plan may not have public support. 

Therefore, the Combination Alternative is recommended as the preliminary design of the final drainage plan for the Dickinson Bayou watershed. The final plan will be developed in detail upon review and comment of this report by the Texas Water Development Board, Galveston County and all other entities participating in this study. The final plan is likely to be divided into a series of several short-range and long-term plans, based on location and timing of drainage facilities that are normally associated with development trends. 


Dickinson Bayou is a 22.7-mile-long, slow-moving coastal stream that drains into Dickinson Bay, a subunit of the Galveston Bay system. Along most of its length the bayou is tidally influenced, while the uppermost reach, from its headwaters to 2.5 miles downstream of FM 517, is not. Dickinson Bayou has ten main tributaries: Oak Creek, Algoa Bayou, and Hickory Bayou in the portion above tidal influence and Gum Bayou, Bensons Bayou, Giesler Bayou, Bordens Gully, Cedar Creek, Hulen Park Bayou, and Arcadia Bayou in the tidal portion. Near its mouth Dickinson Bayou has a significant deep section, where the bottom of the channel dips below the level of the channel at the outlet to Dickinson Bay. This deep section affects the mixing of salt and fresh water in the bayou and the water’s flow to the bay.


This deep section affects the mixing of salt and fresh water in the bayou *and the water’s flow to the bay.

*and the water’s flow to the bay.

 Stream segment 1104 is Dickinson Bayou above tidal reach which flows 7.3 miles from FM 528 to 1.2 miles downstream of FM 517. Segment 1103 is the Dickinson Bayou tidal reach which starts 1.2 miles downstream of FM 517 and flows 16.4 miles to the Dickinson Bayou confluence with Dickinson Bay. Flow regimes in the two reaches are markedly different. The above tidal reach is a relatively narrow, shallow stream (1 to 3 ft deep) with moderate to slow moving water, whereas the tidal reach is a wider, predominantly deep channel (5 to 20 ft deep) with very sluggish flow. 

Streamside vegetation is characteristic of the two stream segments flow regimes. The above tidal reach is characterized by dense riparian vegetation that limits sunlight exposure whereas vegetation in the tidal reach is less dense and allows more exposure to sunlight. The topography of the watershed slopes gently towards the bayou. Landsurface altitude varies from about 50 feet above mean sea level in the western edge to sea level at the eastern mouth of the Bayou. Soils are clays or loams with low permeability. The narrow, shallow channels of the headwaters to Dickinson Bayou are often blocked by fallen trees and scrub-shrub debris. These natural “snags” from trees and debris slow down the flow of flood waters and have caused over-bank flooding into riparian and coastal flatwood forests along the bayou as well as urban development projects. 






Spillway inlet outlet canal Permit 5972 Hwy 146 Bacliff Texas pdf file


The HL&P canal was initially dredged in 1972. According to specifications contained in the permit, it was to be 18 feet deep all the way from Galveston Bay to Dickinson Bayou. The same permit contained provisions that Dickinson Bayou was to be dredged out all the way out to the Houston Ship Channel. This was never done, not even one time.
This is the specific wording used by the US Army Corps of Engineers in writing to HL&P, before they issued the initial permit which created the canal:

"The decision as to where a permit will be issued will be based on an evaluation of the impact of the proposed work on the public interest. Factors affecting the public interest include, but are not limited to, navigation, fish and wildlife, water quality, economics, conservation aesthetics, recreation, water supply, flood damage prevention, ecosystems, and in general the needs and welfare of the people."

The above was written by the district engineer of the Galveston District, Corp of Engineers. On May 10, 1972, Mr. D. E. Simmons, Vice President of Environmental and Inter-Utility Affairs for Houston Lighting and Power stated in writing to the Corp of Engineers that "continued maintenance is planned." In response, the Corp of Engineers issued a Public Notice on November 9, 1972 announcing plans for the HL&P proposals which included the obligation for the utility company to perform continued maintenance dredging. It was understood and agreed upon that the utility would maintain the canal by periodically dredging it and the adjoining bayou, in order to prevent what has now happened. As stated earlier, no such dredging has ever been performed since that 1972 statement. Due to the fact that the dredging maintenance was never performed, the HL&P canal and Dickinson Bayou have both filled in on the ends. This has caused what is called a ''Hydraulic Effect". Hydraulic Effect on Dickinson Bayou means the bayou is twenty-five to thirty feet deep until it gets close to the bay where it shoals to just six or eight feet. That that the bayou cannot ever flow correctly and get properly flushed out. All of the sediment from runoff collects into the mud of the bayou (ie: fertilizer, pesticides, and the waste from the sewer plants.) If the mouth of this bayou and both sides of the HL&P canal were continually dredged as stipulated in the original permit, this hydraulic effect would not be in play. If the bayou was dredged as stipulated in the permit, the lab analyst said that Dickinson Bayou would healing itself immediately. He said, "Mother Nature will eat up all the black muck with natural bacteria once there is a normal oxygen level and good tidal flow. This applies to the canal as well.

Dickinson Bayou and the shoreline can be fixed. It can be a vibrant, aquatic productive estuary once again. Dolphins, alligators, and all manner of wildlife once lived there. The reason our bayou has died is because someone didn't do what they said they were going to do, what they were in fact obligated to do legally.

Who is responsible for this major screw-up? I believe it is a combination of HL&P not doing the dredging they agreed to do, and the Army Corps of Engineers not verifying that work was performed. It all has to do with money. We have put all of the documentation on our web site. To see the flounder kill video and copies of the permits and the drawings of the proposed dredging that was never done please visit 


You do not need to be a subscriber to see this information.

A special thanks to Terry Singeltary of Bacliff for all of his help and support. Also, thanks to Texas A&M Galveston Marine Biology Department for their input. We are not finished with our investigation. Look for continued coverage in the next issue of the Seabreeze News. We will be in contact with the Galveston Bay Foundation and their attorney, seeking their knowledge and expertise.

We hope to find some way to open up Dickinson Bayou and both sides of the HL&P canal in order to facilitate the healing and restoration of our bayou and shorelines, as was expressly promised in the contract.

I have never been a ''tree hugger", but we cannot stand by and allow our coastal waters to be destroyed in the name of the almighty dollar, especially when the solution to the main problem is so simple. If you have any information to share or "comments please write us at the Seabreeze News or send an email to:steve@Seabreezenews.com. Steve Hoyland Sr. www.SeabreezeNews.com 

Spillway inlet outlet canal Permit 5972 Hwy 146 Bacliff Texas pdf file




kind regards, terry

Terry S. Singeltary Sr., Bacliff, Texas USA 77518


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Harvey's Toxic Toll From Industry Waste on Galveston Bay 'NOTHING SHORT OF CATASTROPHIC'

PERFECTLY HEALTHY LOOKING REDFISH SHOWING FLOATING BELLY UP NOW




-----Original Message-----
From: Terry Singeltary
To: flounder9
Cc: steve ; hoylandsr
Sent: Sun, Mar 25, 2018 11:07 am
Subject: Harvey's Toxic Toll From Industry Waste on Galveston Bay 'NOTHING SHORT OF CATASTROPHIC'


Hanadi Rifai, head of the University of Houston’s environmental engineering program. She has been studying pollution in the watershed for more than two decades.

“That soil ended up somewhere,” Rifai said. “The net result on Galveston Bay is going to be nothing short of catastrophic.”

In Houston and beyond, Harvey’s spills leave a toxic legacy

SILENT SPILLS

By Frank Bajak and Lise Olsen

First of two parts

As first responders and residents struggled to save lives and property during the record-shattering deluge of Hurricane Harvey, the toxic onslaught from the nation’s petrochemical hub was largely overshadowed.

But nearly seven months after floodwaters swamped Houston, the extent of the environmental assault is beginning to surface, while questions about the long-term consequences for human health remain unanswered.

County, state and federal records pieced together by the Associated Press and the Houston Chronicle reveal a far more widespread toxic impact than authorities publicly reported after the storm slammed into the Texas coast in late August, then stalled over the Houston area.

Nearly half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater mixed with stormwater surged out of just one chemical plant in Baytown, east of Houston on the upper shores of Galveston Bay.

Benzene, vinyl chloride, butadiene and other known human carcinogens were among the dozens of tons of industrial chemicals released throughout Houston’s petrochemical corridor and surrounding neighborhoods and waterways following Harvey’s torrential rains.

In all, reporters cataloged more than 100 Harvey-related toxic releases — on land, in water and air. Most were never publicized, and in the case of two of the biggest releases, Arkema and Magellan, the extent or potential toxicity was initially understated.

Only a handful of the industrial spills have been investigated by federal regulators, the news organizations found. Texas regulators say they have investigated 89 incidents, but they have yet to announce any enforcement action. Testing by state and federal regulators of soil and water for contaminants was largely limited to Superfund toxic waste sites.

Based on widespread air monitoring, including flyovers, officials repeatedly assured the public that post-Harvey air pollution posed no health threat. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official in charge now says these general assessments did not necessarily reflect local “hotspots” with potential risk to people.

Regulators alerted the public to dangers from just two, well-publicized toxic disasters: the Arkema chemical plant northeast of Houston that exploded and burned for days, and a nearby dioxin-laden federal Superfund site whose protective cap was damaged by the raging San Jacinto River.

Samuel Coleman, who was EPA’s acting regional administrator during Harvey, said the priority in the hurricane’s immediate aftermath was “addressing any environmental harms as quickly as possible as opposed to making announcements about what the problem was.” In hindsight, he added, it might not have been a bad idea to inform the public about the worst of “dozens of spills.”

Local officials say the state’s industry-friendly approach, in particular, has weakened efforts by the city of Houston and surrounding Harris County to build cases against and force cleanup by the companies, many of them repeat environmental offenders.

“The public will probably never know the extent of what happened to the environment after Harvey,” said Rock Owens, supervising environmental attorney for Harris County. “But the individual companies of course know.”

The chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Bryan Shaw, declined when asked by lawmakers in January to identify the worst spills and their locations. He told a legislative subcommittee hearing he could not publicly discuss spills until his staff completed a review.

The amount of government testing after Harvey stands in contrast to what happened following two other major Gulf Coast hurricanes. After Hurricane Ike hit Texas in 2008, state regulators collected 85 sediment samples to measure the contamination, according to a state review. More than a dozen violations were identified, it said, and cleanups were carried out.

ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE: Government ill-equipped to monitor damaged plants 

In Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters ravaged New Orleans in 2005, the EPA and Louisiana officials examined about 1,800 soil samples over 10 months, EPA records showed.

“Now the response is completely different,” said Scott Frickel, an environmental sociologist formerly at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Frickel, now at Brown University, called the Harvey response “unconscionable” given Houston’s massive industrial footprint. Some 500 chemical plants, 10 refineries and more than 6,670 miles of intertwined oil, gas and chemical pipelines line the nation’s largest energy corridor.

Reporters covered some environmental crises as they occurred, such as AP’s exclusive on the flooding of toxic waste sites and the Chronicle’s Arkema warnings before fires broke out. But the sheer quantity of spills was impossible to document in real time.

Academic researchers now are trying to fill in the gaps in environmental monitoring, helped by grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. One project, a Harvey-related public health registry for Houston, was funded just this month but is not yet under way.

“People are left in a state of limbo of not knowing if they were exposed or not — or if they were, what the implications are for their health,” said Dr. Nicole Lurie, who while at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services oversaw federal public health responses to the Superstorm Sandy and Deepwater Horizon disasters.

Scientists say the paucity of data also has the potential to hurt efforts to prepare for and mitigate damage in the future violent weather events that climatologists predict.

Chemical spills by company/plant Spills listed do not necessarily include all toxic releases from the named plant but more notable spills by chemical compound, size and toxicity. The "Act of God" designation comes from companies as allowed under Gov. Greg Abbott's emergency declaration.

Sources: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas General Land Office, Railroad Commission of Texas and Harris County Pollution Control Services Department, U.S. Coast Guard

Graphic by Jordan Rubio

‘Nothing short of catastrophic’ When it meets moisture, hydrogen chloride gas becomes hydrochloric acid, which can burn, suffocate and kill.

Between lulls in Harvey’s pounding torrents on Aug. 28, an 18-inch pipeline leak at Williams Midstream Services Inc. unleashed a plume of the chemical near the intersection of two major highways in La Porte, southeast of Houston where the San Jacinto River meets the 50-mile ship channel, the petrochemical corridor’s main artery that flows into Galveston Bay.

A toxic cloud spread about a quarter-mile in an industrial sector as firefighters and police rushed to shut down roads, blared neighborhood sirens and robo-dispatched phone and text messages warning residents to stay in their homes.

Two hours ticked by before a county hazardous materials response unit — lucky to find a road not under water — arrived and ended the danger with the help of a crew from a nearby plant.

The spill was among dozens barely noticed at the time, records show. A county pollution control inspector, Johnathan Martin, wrote in his report that he could not safely monitor the toxic plume but believed it did not reach homes nearly a mile away. There were no reports of injuries.

On land, the deluge — 5 feet of rain in some spots — appears to have had a scouring effect on topsoil, according to separate testing efforts by scientists from Texas A&M and Rice universities.

The Texas A&M collection of 24 samples was taken in September from lawns mainly in a neighborhood near Valero Energy Corp.’s refinery. It turned up only low traces of petroleum and petrochemical-related compounds.

“As expected, the rains washed most things out,” said Texas A&M research leader Anthony Knap.

WASTE PITS: Residents wait for answers about waste pit pollution

Rice researchers tested soil at a school and park in Baytown, east across Upper Galveston Bay, where residents said floodwaters invaded from the 3,400-acre ExxonMobil refinery and chemical plant. They also sampled in Galena Park, a community of 11,000 hemmed in by heavy industry just east of downtown along the ship channel.

However, only one of the nine samples collected by Rice researchers showed elevated levels of petroleum-related chemicals, according to an independent chemical analysis funded by the AP-Chronicle collaboration. Collected in Galena Park, it showed the presence of benzo(a)pyrene, a known carcinogen, at levels just above what the EPA deems a cancer risk.

Jessica Chastain lives a block away.

During Harvey’s three-day downpour, a nearby creek swallowed Chastain’s home, forcing the 36-year-old mother and four of her children to swim across the street to the safety of her parents’ two-story house.

The water from Panther Creek was a slimy brownish-black and smelled like a “rotten sewer,” Chastain said. “It had a coat of film over it. I’m not sure what it was. It was probably oil.”

Her children — 15, 11, 9 and 6 — all developed skin infections and strep throat, she said.

Her youngest still “cries when it rains hard,” she said. “ ‘Is it going to flood?’ he asks.”

The creek, which flows into the nearby ship channel, had backed up from flooded chemical plants and tank farms.

A number of Harvey-related spills occurred near Chastain’s home, including the 460,000-gallon gasoline spill at a Magellan Midstream Partners’ tank farm and nearly 52,000 pounds of crude oil from a Seaway Crude Pipeline Inc. tank.

Samples taken in October at Houston’s Mason Park, upstream of the ship channel in the city’s east end, showed elevated levels of dioxins, PCBs and hazardous chemicals typically created in the burning of oil, coal and gas, said Jennifer Horney, an A&M professor of epidemiology who conducted testing for the city.

Benzo(a)pyrene was among the chemicals found in sediment on the banks of Brays Bayou at the park, a popular recreation site with baseball diamonds, soccer pitches and bicycle pathways.

“It’s coal tar and it’s a known carcinogen, and mostly you find it in industrial settings,” Horney said. “We know the ship channel — or the bayou — was (up) in that park.”

While worrisome, the levels at Mason Park were not high enough to trigger a cleanup under EPA standards, she said. Neither Houston nor Texas A&M officials have released those test results, which the city health department’s chief environmental science officer, Loren Raun, said showed “nothing of concern for human health risk.”

The surface soil scrubbing that scientists believe occurred during Harvey means contaminants likely migrated downstream, said Hanadi Rifai, head of the University of Houston’s environmental engineering program. She has been studying pollution in the watershed for more than two decades.

“That soil ended up somewhere,” Rifai said. “The net result on Galveston Bay is going to be nothing short of catastrophic.”

Seven months after floodwaters swamped Houston, the extent of the environmental assault is surfacing and questions about long-term health consequences remain unanswered. Media: John Mone/AP A vapor cloud Residents of the tidy, mostly Latino neighborhood off Old Industrial Road in Galena Park are accustomed to the foul odors that wind shifts can bring.

But no one told them about the gasoline spill at the Magellan terminal a mile away, one of more than a dozen Harvey-related releases in a 2-mile radius. The release was initially reported to the Coast Guard at 42,000 gallons — and residents would learn of it a week later only through news reports. Not until 11 days after the spill did Magellan report that it was actually more than 10 times larger.

Asked about the discrepancy, Magellan spokesman Bruce Heine said floodwaters prevented the company from accessing the ruptured tanks until Sept. 5. He said the company later removed 15 dump trucks full of tainted soil.

The spill was reported to the Coast Guard at 11:35 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31, six days after Harvey made landfall. It’s not clear exactly when it began.

An explosion risk prompted workers to evacuate upwind as the nearly half-million gallons of gasoline gushed out of failed storage tanks, state environmental and Coast Guard records show. The spill ranked as Texas’ largest reported Harvey-related venting of air pollutants at 1,143 tons.

The local fire department put down foam to suppress the fumes, records revealed, and a police call report described “a vapor cloud.”

Claudia Mendez, a 42-year-old housewife, said she later saw foam by the side of the road and wondered about its origin.

The fumes were so strong, Mendez said, “I thought my husband had brought the lawnmower gas can inside.”

Magellan has been cited for 11 environmental violations since 2002 by Texas regulators and fined more than $190,000, more than half in August 2012 for a single violation of air quality standards.

Its spill is among at least three post-Harvey incidents that Harris County officials have declined to provide information about or to discuss, saying they remain under investigation.

The second involves W&P Development Corp., owner of an industrial park where as much as 100,000 gallons of oily wastewater were reported to have spilled into the San Jacinto River between Aug. 29-31. The site was formerly Champion Paper Mill, and a landfill there received wastes including turpentine- and lead-contaminated soil and mercury until 2008. For most of 2015-16, the property was in violation of federal anti-pollution laws, EPA records show.

A spokesman for W&P Development, Dennis Winkler, said the company has estimated that a smaller amount — 30,000 gallons — had escaped from a water treatment plant after the river flowed over a berm.

The third site is Channel Biorefinery & Terminals, where about 80,000 gallons of methanol spilled from a tank rupture into Greens Bayou, which enters the ship channel just downstream of the Magellan terminal. Highly flammable and explosive, methanol can cause brain lesions and other disorders.

The property, once the site of the nation’s largest biofuels refinery, was in violation of federal hazardous waste-management rules for the first half of 2017. Texas cited the property’s owners for failing to prove they could manage licensed wastes, including oily sludge and petroleum distillates, records show.

Dennis Frost, the on-site manager for Gulf Coast Energy, the tenant of Channel Biorefinery, said he and co-workers did their best to prevent the spills.

“They were impossible to contain,” he said. “The water here down by our facility was up over 20 feet.”

Industry: no danger Companies are required under federal law to report spills to the state and federal government but not to the county, the first line of defense against industrial pollution.

Harris County pollution control investigators queried more than 150 plants on Harvey-related spills, but many did not provide estimates.

“Spill information is provided as a courtesy,” said Latrice Babin, deputy director of the county’s pollution control office. “Likewise, there is no requirement of notification of evacuation.”

The largest spill, by far, was at ExxonMobil Corp.’s Olefins Plant in Baytown, east of the ship channel. Two days after Harvey hit, roughly 457 million gallons of stormwater mixed with untreated wastewater, including oil and grease, surged into an adjacent creek.

The spill was not reported to the public. In a water quality report filed with the county and obtained through a records request, ExxonMobil said “available information does not indicate any potential danger to human health or safety or the environment.”

CHEMICAL BREAKDOWN: Our look at the regulatory failures that put us in jeopardy

It did not include results of third-party water testing that the company said had been done. The plant has a history of federal air pollution violations and reported emitting 228 tons of airborne pollutants during Harvey.

Other large spills found in official records include:

 • More than 3,000 pounds of benzene from Shell Oil Company’s Deer Park refinery and chemical plant on the ship channel’s south bank. Initially, the company reported a half ton of phenol, which can burn skin and be potentially fatal, was spilled but revised that downward to 2 pounds.

 • About 34,000 pounds of sodium hydroxide, or lye, which can cause severe chemical burns, and unpermitted airborne emissions, including 28,000 pounds of benzene, from the Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. chemical plant in Baytown. A spokesman, Bryce Hallowell, said a containment pond kept about 38 percent of the lye from escaping the facility. Thousands of residents live near the plant along Cedar Bayou.

 • About 60,000 tons of what Dow Chemical Co. called “non-hazardous biosolids” released from the company’s plant in Deer Park. The company now says that roughly 50 tons of that consisted of biosolids and the rest was “primarily” stormwater.

Yvette Arellano of the advocacy group Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services surveyed the area by helicopter on Sept. 4.

She reported seeing flooded tank farms, fluorescent liquid streaming from Exxon’s outfalls, and refineries and chemical plants flaring gas intensely like giant candles.

“The entire skyscape looked like a birthday cake,” Arellano said.

Benzene emissions post-Harvey Hot spots on the map were detected by Entanglement Technologies for the Environmental Defense Fund and Air Alliance Houston. The dots show facilities that reported benzene emissions and/or spills to authorities. Toggle between layers to see where benzene emissions occurred post-Harvey and what plants emitted benzene.

Sources: Entanglement for the Environmental Defense Fund, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas General Land Office, Railroad Commission of Texas and Harris County Pollution Control Services Department, U.S. Coast Guard

Graphic by Jordan Rubio

‘Evacuate the residents?’ As Harvey bore down on Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration decreed that storm-related pollution could be forgiven if it resulted from an “act of God” or other catastrophe. Days later, he suspended many environmental regulations.

On Sept. 1, just as residents in some areas of Houston started dragging soggy belongings to the curb, the city experienced Texas’ worst ozone pollution of the year, state records show.

A top city health official emailed the EPA on Sept. 1 with a request marked “urgent,” asking for help in determining whether spills and leaks at industrial and Superfund sites threatened the public. The city had received dozens of calls to its 311 help line from residents in Manchester about a strong gasoline smell.

Three days later, after getting no response, she emailed again, records show.

“We are finding alarming levels of benzene in the neighborhood next to Valero. … Should EPA evacuate the residents?”

There was no record of an EPA email response, though the agency did send a mobile air-monitoring van on Sept. 5.

By then, Houston had done its own air monitoring, recording a high benzene level of 324 parts per billion in Manchester — more than three times the level at which federal worker safety guidelines recommend special breathing equipment. The city was aided by the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund, which dispatched a mobile van from California to track the toxic benzene plume.

On Sept. 7, state investigators took air samples near Valero and reported suffering headaches and dizziness, though they said they found pollutants “below levels of short-term health and/or welfare concern,” according to a state report.

The EPA said it also conducted 28 flights over 12 days beginning Aug. 31 using a plane equipped to evaluate “unreported or undetected” chemical releases. It flew over nearly 700 industrial sites, municipal wastewater treatment plants and other facilities, and EPA said it found no pollution exceeding state-permitted levels.

In at least seven status reports the EPA and TCEQ posted online from Sept. 3 and Oct. 6, they said all measurements “were well below levels of health concern.”

Coleman, who retired in January after 29 years with EPA, said he was comfortable with the advisories, saying they were general assessments.

“Were there hotspots? Absolutely,” he said in a recent interview. “But on any given day, within some isolated area, there could be a problem.”

AP and Chronicle reporters asked the EPA and state regulators for a detailed accounting of any soil and water testing they did after Harvey, along with any investigations or sanctions.

The responses mostly cited online bulletins, in which the EPA said it had assessed all 43 Superfund cleanup sites in the hurricane-affected area and cleared all but one — the San Jacinto River Waste Pits — which was leaking dioxins. An examination of the 17 state Superfund sites found “no major issues,” regulators said.

State officials said they didn’t test any sediment that may have been deposited elsewhere by floodwaters. The EPA tested water at an unspecified number of industrial sites but did not disclose results.

Without elaborating, the state said it had a number of open investigations. The EPA refused to discuss whom it might be investigating, beyond Valero and Arkema.

With a few exceptions, companies with spills did not call local emergency responders, meaning the public was not informed in real time. Instead, the companies handled the spills in-house, the Chronicle and AP found in surveying local and county fire officials.

AFTER HARVEY: Read all of our Harvey coverage here

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which handles countywide emergency response and routinely dispatches a special investigator to major spills, said it was not alerted to 22 of 23 spills that reporters asked about based on size and potential toxicity.

The Arkema plant was the exception. Impossible to go unnoticed, its containers of liquid organic peroxides exploded after floodwaters disabled backup generators. Sickened first responders have filed suit, as have Harris and Liberty counties, which contend that the company violated numerous environmental and safety regulations.

Bob Royall, emergency operations chief for the Harris County Fire Marshal’s office, said his agency was alerted to Arkema and the Williams’ hydrogen chloride gas leak but no one informed it at the time of the nearly half-million-gallon Magellan spill.

Like spills on land, unpermitted releases of air pollutants are self-reported in Texas, a state that has long been friendly to heavy industry. As attorney general, prior to being elected governor, Abbott had sued the federal government more than a dozen times to challenge environmental regulations that he deemed over-reaching.

The governor’s Harvey disaster declaration suspended environmental reporting and record-keeping rules as well as liability for unauthorized emissions for the duration of the disaster declaration, an order most recently renewed on March 16. A spokesman for the state environmental agency said the suspensions apply only when rules would hinder disaster response.

An attorney for the nonprofit Austin-based Environmental Integrity Project said that while federal environmental laws remained in effect, the governor’s action essentially put state regulators on the sidelines and made it more difficult to hold polluters accountable.

“The state tied its own hands before it knew the scope or the magnitude or any of the effects of the storm,” said attorney Ilan Levin.

The TCEQ itself has a long track record of industry tolerance. State auditors in 2003 found it was late in ordering and collecting fines, giving polluters $25 million a year in discounts. A study by Levin’s group found the agency penalized only 3 percent of air pollution incidents reported by all companies statewide from 2011 to 2016.

Two Texas laws enacted since mid-2015 have weakened counties’ ability to police polluters. The first caps at $2.15 million what they can collect from polluters in lawsuits. The rest must go to the state. The second law took effect Sept. 1. It obliges counties to give the state right of first refusal on any pollution enforcement cases, which local officials say could mean less punitive action.

“Every time we’ve been able to make something — you get a large judgment against one of these companies, get some significant process-changing injunctive relief — they come back around behind us to the Legislature,” said Owens. “And they have clipped our wings.” 


 To read the second part of this series, go here. 


Associated Press reporter Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles and Houston Chronicle reporter Alex Stuckey contributed to this story.

About the series: This series is the result of a collaboration between the Chronicle and the Associated Press. Frank Bajak reports for the Associated Press.

Frank Bajak's AP career spans more than three decades and three continents. A longtime foreign correspondent and the AP's first tech editor, Bajak was a Houston-based investigative reporter until February and now covers cybersecurity from Boston. A 2014 winner of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for international journalism, Bajak has recently covered drug corruption, illegal logging and cyberespionage in South America and Big Brother tech, immigration and election insecurity in the United States. Contact him at fbajak@ap.org. @fbajak on Twitter.

Lise Olsen, deputy investigations editor and senior investigative reporter, joined the Chronicle in 2003. She has more than 20 years' experience specializing primarily in crime, corruption, worker safety and human rights. Her investigation of unsolved Texas serial murders was made into a 2017 documentary series called "The Eleven." She has been named Texas AP Managing Editors' Star Reporter of the Year three times. Contact her at lise.olsen@chron.com. Follow her on Twitter at @chrondigger.

Multimedia by Elizabeth Conley and John Mone

Interactives and design by Jordan Rubio


Part 2



SO damn sad, we have to sit and watch our precious Galveston Bay die a slow death from big industry, Trump and the WH works even harder to abolish what is left of any regulation, with our Governor Abbott doing nothing to stop it.

I wonder what happened to any wastewater (treated or untreated), from Dickinson Bayou Clean Harbors San Leon, Inc., during Harvey, was there any release there from? had anyone looked into that? were/are there any records, statements from the Company? 

just something to think about. we have not eaten much seafood from Galveston Bay since Harvey, we are waiting for any test results of tissue samples from any fish, and or water samples, and reports there from, have not come out yet, that i am aware of, if they even will be available to the public. my guess if the reports are good, they will be released to the public, if they are bad, silence will be the word. we will have to wait and see. sadly, i am seeing more and more game fish floating dead in Galveston bay, with no apparent noticeable injury's, here is the latest, a big Redfish floating dead just a few days ago under the pier, see photo. ...


redfish dead.JPG

WEDNESDAY, MAY 31, 2017 

Clean Harbors Neglects Chemical Toxicity Concerns, Judge Concludes TCEQ Failed To Follow Their Own Written Policy


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2017 

TCEQ RULING PROTECT DICKINSON BAYOU Unanimously Reject Hazardous Waste Company Attempts To Avoid Toxicity Testing


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2016 

CLEAN HARBORS Ruling may take more than year in bayou discharge request


Sunday, November 20, 2016 

Clean Harbors San Leon, Texas Environmental groups join fight against controversial permit application 


DIOXIN WARNING GALVESTON BAY AREA CATFISH AND CRAB


Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Clean Harbors Hearing set in company’s request to discharge into Dickinson bayou

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2016 

CLEAN HARBORS SAN LEON TCEQ Permit No.: WQ0004086000 Final Plea For Appeal For Hearing CLEAN HARBORS SAN LEON TCEQ Permit No.: WQ0004086000 Plea For Appeal For Hearing


Saturday, July 18, 2015 

DICKINSON BAYOU NEEDS TO BE SAVED, NO MORE TREATED OR NON TREATED WATER DISCHARGE PERMITS

see massive flounder kill right off Bacliff shoreline north and south of the old Spillway outlet years back ;

UPDATE OCTOBER 6, 2012
WHY THE FISH ARE DYING
(Part two in a series by Steve Hoyland Sr. of the Seabreeze News)
Galveston Bay Area www.SeabreezeNews.com The voice of the beautiful bayside communitieswww.seabreezenews.com PH: 281.235.8885
Serving: San Leon, Bacliff, Bayview, Dickinson, Texas City, Kemah, League City, Seabrook & Clear Lake Shores
October 4, 2012 Why The Fish Are Dying
(Part two in a series by Steve Hoyland Sr. of the Seabreeze News)
In our last issue, we reported on the massive fish kill in the area along the shore just north of the Spillway in San Leon. While that issue was still being printed I took two experts from an independent laboratory out in my boat to take mud and oxygen samples at the inlet and outlet of the HL&P (Houston Lighting & Power Co.) canal which passes through our scenic little community. The results finally came back from the lab just three days ago, and they are startling. On the HL&P canal inlet side that ties into Dickinson Bayou the chemical oxygen demand (COD) was 368 (normal being 40 or less.) The dissolved oxygen was 0.3. This dissolved oxygen level is so low where Dickinson Bayou and the HL&P canal meet that it cannot sustain any aquatic life. The lab analyst stated, "With the combination of these numbers this water is the equivalent of sewer water." Coincidentally, there are currently five sewage plants that dump into Dickinson Bayou and the HL&P canal. On top of that, Texas City is rumored to have plans to turn the twelve hundred acres of HL&P property into a housing project. They have proposed building a sewage treatment facility on Dickinson Bayou between the inlet canal and the bridge, where it would dump one million gallons of treated sewage into Dickinson Bayou every day. What are they thinking? On the canal outlet at the Spillway, we found the chemical oxygen demand (COD) was 358. The dissolved oxygen level was 2.8. Once again, the water there will not sustain aquatic life. The only good news from the testing we paid for is that there were no heavy metals detected in the mud samples.
The HL&P canal was initially dredged in 1972. According to specifications contained in the permit, it was to be 18 feet deep all the way from Galveston Bay to Dickinson Bayou. The same permit contained provisions that Dickinson Bayou was to be dredged out all the way out to the Houston Ship Channel. This was never done, not even one time.
This is the specific wording used by the US Army Corps of Engineers in writing to HL&P, before they issued the initial permit which created the canal:
"The decision as to where a permit will be issued will be based on an evaluation of the impact of the proposed work on the public interest. Factors affecting the public interest include, but are not limited to, navigation, fish and wildlife, water quality, economics, conservation aesthetics, recreation, water supply, flood damage prevention, ecosystems, and in general the needs and welfare of the people."
The above was written by the district engineer of the Galveston District, Corp of Engineers. On May 10, 1972, Mr. D. E. Simmons, Vice President of Environmental and Inter-Utility Affairs for Houston Lighting and Power stated in writing to the Corp of Engineers that
"continued maintenance is planned." In response, the Corp of Engineers issued a Public Notice on November 9, 1972 announcing plans for the HL&P proposals which included the obligation for the utility company to perform continued maintenance dredging. It was understood and agreed upon that the utility would maintain the canal by periodically dredging it and the adjoining bayou, in order to prevent what has now happened. As stated earlier, no such dredging has ever been performed since that 1972 statement. Due to the fact that the dredging maintenance was never performed, the HL&P canal and Dickinson Bayou have both filled in on the ends. This has caused what is called a ''Hydraulic Effect". Hydraulic Effect on Dickinson Bayou means the bayou is twenty-five to thirty feet deep until it gets close to the bay where it shoals to just six or eight feet. That that the bayou cannot ever flow correctly and get properly flushed out. All of the sediment from runoff collects into the mud of the bayou (ie: fertilizer, pesticides, and the waste from the sewer plants.) If the mouth of this bayou and both sides of the HL&P canal were continually dredged as stipulated in the original permit, this hydraulic effect would not be in play. If the bayou was dredged as stipulated in the permit, the lab analyst said that Dickinson Bayou would healing itself immediately. He said, "Mother Nature will eat up all the black muck with natural bacteria once there is a normal oxygen level and good tidal flow. This applies to the canal as well.
Dickinson Bayou and the shoreline can be fixed. It can be a vibrant, aquatic productive estuary once again. Dolphins, alligators, and all manner of wildlife once lived there. The reason our bayou has died is because someone didn't do what they said they were going to do, what they were in fact obligated to do legally.
Who is responsible for this major screw-up? I believe it is a combination of HL&P not doing the dredging they agreed to do, and the Army Corps of Engineers not verifying that work was performed. It all has to do with money. We have put all of the documentation on our web site. To see the flounder kill video and copies of the permits and the drawings of the proposed dredging that was never done please visit ;www.SeabreezeNews.com/bayou
You do not need to be a subscriber to see this information.
A special thanks to Terry Singeltary of Bacliff for all of his help and support. Also, thanks to Texas A&M Galveston Marine Biology Department for their input. We are not finished with our investigation. Look for continued coverage in the next issue of the Seabreeze News. We will be in contact with the Galveston Bay Foundation and their attorney, seeking their knowledge and expertise.
We hope to find some way to open up Dickinson Bayou and both sides of the HL&P canal in order to facilitate the healing and restoration of our bayou and shorelines, as was expressly promised in the contract.
I have never been a ''tree hugger", but we cannot stand by and allow our coastal waters to be destroyed in the name of the almighty dollar, especially when the solution to the main problem is so simple. If you have any information to share or "comments please write us at the Seabreeze News or send an email to:steve@Seabreezenews.com. Steve Hoyland Sr. www.SeabreezeNews.com Spillway inlet outlet canal Permit 5972 Hwy 146 Bacliff Texas pdf file


Terry S. Singeltary Sr.