Clean Harbors Neglects Chemical Toxicity Concerns, Judge Concludes TCEQ Failed To Follow Their Own Written Policy
Judge: TCEQ Failed To Follow Their Own Written Policy
Clean Harbors Neglects Chemical Toxicity Concerns Austin, TX – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality [TCEQ] and Clean Harbors recently tried to pull fast one on the citizens of San Leon, Texas, but were caught red-handed by the Administrative Law Judge overseeing the case.
Clean Harbors applied for a draft permit to dump effluent containing up to 17 toxic chemicals into Dickinson Bayou and unnamed tributaries with the approval of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality with zero oversight.
It almost succeeded until a group of San Leon residents and the local municipal utility district put up a fight. One such resident, Lisa Halili, argued that Clean Harbors did not consider “any unanticipated toxic effect” of the proposed discharge.
On April 24, the Administrative Law Judge who oversaw the February 2017 hearing agreed, noting Clean Harbors failed to take into account the possible “synergistic effect” the 17 pollutants – including arsenic and mercury – could have on Dickinson Bayou and the unnamed tributaries, which could potentially impact the immature marine organisms and bird habitat in the area.
Turns out, Clean Harbors neglected to include Whole Effluent Toxicity [WET] testing in their draft permit despite an analysis conducted by TCEQ that showed the rating for potential toxicity discharge far exceeded the classification sought in the draft permit.
Under the Administrative Law Judge ruling, known within the State Office of Administrative Hearings as a Proposal For Decision [PFD], Clean Harbors would now be required to add a WET testing condition to its permit to monitor and determine if the discharge is toxic.
“The recommendation to include WET testing is a very big win because it will require Clean Harbors to constantly monitor potential toxicity in receiving waters,” stated Joe Manchaca, President of the San Leon MUD.
The Administrative Law Judge also concluded TCEQ failed to follow its own “written policy, which unambiguously states that WET testing is required as a condition of a permit.”
Although the ruling by the Administrative Law Judge is not the final decision, it is a step in the right direction in requiring hazardous waste companies doing business in Galveston County to put forth due diligence in protecting Dickinson Bayou and unnamed waterways in San Leon.
Chad Wilbanks Group
Public Affairs Strategy for Business and Politics
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2017 Contact: Chad Wilbanks 512.423.0049 What is Clean Harbors Hiding?
They are opposed to testing toxicity levels in their own hazardous waste discharges.
Austin, TX – In a case before the State Office of Administrative Hearings where Clean Harbors San Leon has applied for a draft permit to dump effluent containing up to 17 toxic chemicals - including arsenic and mercury – into Dickinson Bayou, they continuously argue against doing whole effluent toxicity (“WET”) testing despite an analysis by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) showing the potential toxicity discharge by Clean Harbors San Leon far exceeding the classification sought in their permit.
The Office of Public Interest Counsel and the Administrative Law Judge who heard the case in February have both stated that WET testing must be included in the permit in order to comply with the “written policy” of TCEQ. The Executive Director of TCEQ is also on record of not opposing the inclusion of a WET testing requirement.
It was also previously noted by the Administrative Law Judge that the draft permit Clean Harbors San Leon submitted failed to take into account the possible “synergistic effect” 17 toxic chemicals being discharged could have on the environment.
What is Clean Harbors hiding and why do they continue to refuse testing their hazardous waste discharge into Dickinson Bayou to prove there is no unanticipated toxic effect? Maybe it’s because they know the discharge is not safe.
Call Clean Harbors San Leon at 281.339.1352 and ask them why they refuse WET testing?
PO Box 342693 Austin, TX 78734 · 512.423.0049 phone · firstname.lastname@example.org
State should heed judge on Clean Harbors permit
By MICHAEL A. SMITH May 11, 2017
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality should follow an administrative judge’s recommendation and require water testing by a company seeking to dump treated wastewater into a tributary flowing in Dickinson Bayou.
Clean Harbors San Leon Inc. in May 2015 applied for an amendment to its existing permit from the state environmental agency to discharge up to 105,000 gallons of treated wastewater and treated stormwater each day into a tributary on its property that flows to Dickinson Bayou.
The proposal quickly drew opposition from neighboring property owners and residents, particularly in San Leon, who worried the company's plan will further pollute the bayou.
A coalition of residents, including local oyster company owners and representatives of the San Leon Municipal Utility District, protested and sought a hearing from the State Office of Administrative Hearings, which considers disputes over permits. In a proposal for decision published April 24, Administrative Judge Joanne Summerhays ruled the draft permit had not required Clean Harbors to conduct whole effluent toxicity testing, or WET as it's called, on it's discharged wastewater, which is a violation of state code.
The judge recommended the amendment be accepted, but with the requirement...snip...end
Greetings Family, Friends, of Sunny San Leon, Bacliff, Bayview, Dickinson, and anybody else that wants to save Dickinson Bayou and Bay, which both are a part of Galveston Bay.
i'm not celebrating yet folks.
Clean Harbors Neglects Chemical Toxicity Concerns, Judge: TCEQ Failed To Follow Their Own Written Policy ???
i just can't get over the fact that the Honorable Administrative Judge Joanne Summerhays found that TCEQ failed to follow their own guidelines in demanding that Clean Harbors do WET testing. plus, who in their right mind would let the wolf guard the hen house, and allow Clean Harbors to do any kind of testing on their own. This WET test and any other testing must be done by an accountable independent body, and verified by another independent body, considering now that we can't trust anymore what TCEQ with their own rules and regulations. I simply don't trust TCEQ anymore with anything now that they omitted a very important test such as the WET testing. what else has TCEQ et al conveniently overlooked for Clean Harbors? something smells very fishy here, and it's not dead fish, yet, it's TCEQ and Clean Harbors, imo...
Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
Whole Effluent Toxicity Methods
""Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) refers to the aggregate toxic effect to aquatic organisms from all pollutants contained in a facility's wastewater (effluent). It is one way we implement the Clean Water Act's prohibition of the discharge of toxic pollutants in toxic amounts. WET tests measure wastewater's effects on specific test organisms' ability to survive, grow and reproduce.
The WET methods listed below are specified at 40 CFR 136.3, Table I A. WET test methods consist of exposing living aquatic organisms (plants, vertebrates and invertebrates) to various concentrations of a sample of wastewater, usually from a facility's effluent stream. WET tests are used by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting authority to determine whether a facility's permit will need to include WET requirements.
All manuals include guidelines on laboratory safety, quality assurance, facilities and equipment, dilution water, effluent sampling methods and holding times and temperatures, data analysis, report preparation, and organism culturing and handling.
Method Guidance and Recommendations for WET Testing (July 2000)
Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) Testing
Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) Basics - Current TCEQ Policy WET testing: The purpose of WET testing is to assess the effect that a permitted wastewater discharge may have on the aquatic organisms in the receiving waters. This is accomplished by exposing aquatic organisms to the discharge in a controlled test. The test simulates and measures the interaction of constituents in the discharge at a given distance from the point of discharge, typically at the edge of the mixing zone. Regulatory Authority: 40 Code of Federal Regulations §122.44(d)(1) 30 Texas Administrative Code §307.6(e) WET testing is applicable in the following situations Domestic wastewater dischargers with: Permitted wastewater flow of 1 MGD or greater EPA-approved pretreatment program Potential to effect toxicity in receiving waters Industrial wastewater dischargers with: EPA-classified majors Continuously-discharged process wastewater Potential to effect toxicity in receiving waters
Three Types of WET testing
24-hour acute: measures lethality to specified invertebrate/vertebrate species 48-hour acute: measures lethality to specified invertebrate/vertebrate species 7-day chronic: measures lethality and sublethality (growth/reproduction) to specified invertebrate/vertebrate species Test Organisms Used Freshwater: Chronic: Ceriodaphnia dubia (water flea) Pimephales promelas (fathead minnow) Acute: Daphnia pulex (water flea) Pimephales promelas (fathead minnow)
Saltwater: Discussion Topics Whole Effluent Toxicity Page 2 of 2 Chronic and Acute: Mysidopsis bahia (mysid shrimp) Menidia beryllina (inland silverside)
Passing vs. Failing WET Passing: When the difference between the critical dilution (% effluent at the mixing zone) and the control is not statistically significant, the test is considered to have passed. Failing: When the difference between the critical dilution (% effluent at the mixing zone) and the control is statistically significant, the test is considered to be a failure. After a failure, TCEQ policy requires the permittee to conduct 2 additional consecutive monthly tests for LETHALITY ONLY to determine persistent toxicity. A Toxicity Reduction Evaluation (TRE) is required when persistent toxicity is demonstrated after the initial failure and when both subsequent retests fail. Toxicity Reduction Evaluation (TRE): A test method to try to determine the source of the lethal toxicity. There are three possible outcomes to a TRE: Chemical specific limit: If an actual toxicant was identified as causing the test failure, then a limit is placed in the permit for that particular toxicant. This limit is enforceable. Whole Effluent Toxicity limit (WET limit): If no single toxicant was identified, then a limit is placed in the permit for the toxicity of the entire effluent. This limit is enforceable.
Best Management Practice (BMP): Very rarely used; assessed in situations were a BMP will clearly prevent the toxicant from ever entering the wastewater treatment system. The current Implementation Procedures also indicate that persistent sublethal effects may have to be addressed by a TRE to attempt to determine a source of sublethal toxicity. Currently, there are no stipulations indicating this may lead to a sublethal WET limit.
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
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
Saturday, July 18, 2015
DICKINSON BAYOU NEEDS TO BE SAVED, NO MORE TREATED OR NON TREATED WATER DISCHARGE PERMITS
Terry S. Singeltary Sr., Bacliff, Texas, USA, Galveston Bay
SINGELTARY SHORT SUBMISSION
CLEAN HARBORS SAN LEON TCEQ
Permit No.: WQ0004086000
Greetings TCEQ et al,
I kindly wish to submit my strong opposition for any permit for CLEAN HARBORS SAN LEON TCEQ Permit No.: WQ0004086000, to allow any treated or non-treated waste water, or anything else, to be allowed to be discharged into the Dickinson Bayou watershed or nearby locations adjacent to Dickinson Bay, inside of Galveston bay.
The Public needs to be able to comment on this, and should.
The Dickinson Bayou watershed has been so strained environmentally due to many reasons over the past decades, some reasons include Livestock, Pets, faulty septic systems, agricultural activities, urban run-off and what all that contains, pesticide runoff, waste water treatment plants, just to name a few, but now we have an industrial complex that wants to grow at the mouth of Dickinson Bayou, a Bayou that already has studies that show it’s very sluggish in terms of tidal movement, and a Bayou that has consistently been in trouble, year after year after decade.
In my opinion, I believe one of the main reasons that causes this, besides all the pollution, is the fact Dickinson Bayou needs to, should have been dredged, with a continuous dredge maintained from inside the mouth, and past the old grave yard, across those flats, on up until Dickinson Bayou gets deep, all the way to the ship channel.
The water quality in Dickinson Bayou, has been bad for some time due to little tidal movement. Just very recently, the Houston Chronicle ran an article on a workshop (see below in reference materials) on how to improve Dickinson Bayou due to unacceptably high levels of bacteria, posing possible health and environmental risks. so why would TCEQ or anyone allow such a permit to throw more fuel to the fire? the old spillway inlet at the mouth of Dickinson Bayou, and outlet over on the Bacliff Side, is and has been dead in the water years and years, with no movement through there to help oxygenate the water, we have had numerous fish kills, with one massive flounder kill.
why can the ship channel have a continuous life time dredge for the tanker traffic, but yet never dredge Dickinson Bayou, when the Army Corp of Eng said long ago that this needed to be done to maintain a healthy Bayou? what are we waiting on?
Via the FOIA, I received the HL&P construction permits back in the 60’s, and the dredging that the Army Corp of engineers said would come and be maintained constantly.
That never happened.
This constant maintaining of a dredge was to be done all the way to the ship channel, to prevent just what has happened, and it says so in the permit.
see permit PDF in my reference materials below.
Until Dickinson Bayou is dredged out and all the way to the ship channel so Dickinson Bayou can breath again, anything else in my opinion will be futile.
with no changes to the plan to address the issue of dredging Dickinson Bayou to address the tidal flow issues, and proper flushing of Dickinson Bayou, all your going to have is a toilet that does not flush properly, that our children have been playing and swimming in, and consuming the seafood there from.
some kind of tourist attraction, welcome to the Toilet Bowl.
I strongly protest, and strongly object, in totality, to Permit No.: WQ0004086000 for CLEAN HARBORS SAN LEON TCEQ RN Number: RN100890235, please deny this permit. ...
Terry S. Singeltary Sr. Bacliff, Texas 77518
ENFORCEMENT FOR CLEAN HARBORS
Docket No. 2014-1366-PWS-E.
Consideration of an Agreed Order assessing administrative penalties and requiring certain actions of Clean Harbors San Leon, Inc. in Galveston County; RN100890235; for public drinking water violations pursuant to Tex. Health & Safety Code ch. 341 and the rules of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Item 35 Docket No. 2014-1366-PWS-E. Consideration of an Agreed Order assessing administrative penalties and requiring certain actions of Clean Harbors San Leon, Inc. in Galveston County; RN100890235; for public drinking water violations pursuant to Tex. Health & Safety Code ch. 341 and the rules of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. (Jessica Schildwachter, Candy Garrett) Approve the Agreed Order. ZC/TB; all agree.
An agreed order was entered regarding Clean Harbors San Leon, Inc., Docket No. 2014-1366-PWS-E on April 1, 2015, assessing $234 in administrative penalties with $234 deferred.
Terry S. Singeltary Sr. previous comment
Response to Public Comments Eight TMDLs for Indicator Bacteria in Dickinson Bayou and Three Tidal Tributaries (Segments 1103 and 1104)
November 12, 2013
Terry Singeltary (written)
The TCEQ efforts to bring back quality water, instead of polluted water to the Dickinson Bayou and its Tributaries, are greatly appreciated. However, I think it all will be futile, if Dickinson Bayou is not dredged out to where the water can flow freely with the tidal movements. I believe that due to Dickinson Bayou not being dredged and maintained properly, to allow for a maximum flow, by Houston Lighting and Power Co. (HL&P) is/was a cause to a great many of our problems in Dickinson Bayou, and surrounding waters. I also believe that HL&P, the Army, or the Army Corp of Engineers should foot the total bill for the dredging.
The TCEQ and local stakeholders in the Dickinson Bayou watershed have agreed to work together to reduce bacteria pollution in Dickinson Bayou and its tributaries, as described in the I-Plan document. At the same time, stakeholders in the watershed are continuing to explore ways to decrease the effects of pollution on Dickinson Bayou. The TCEQ does not have regulatory authority to compel private or public entities to dredge Texas waterways to improve flow. No changes were made to the I-Plan based on this comment.
Workshop to look at efforts to protect, improve Dickinson Bayou
By Annette Baird
Updated 1:10 pm, Tuesday, July 14, 2015
*** But the 100-square-mile watershed, from which water flows into Dickinson and Galveston bays, has been tested with unacceptably high levels of bacteria, posing possible health and environmental risks. ***
High concentrations of bacteria measured in Dickinson Bayou Tidal, Segment 1103, and four of its tributaries might pose a health risk for people who swim or wade in the bayou. Bacteria from human and animal waste may indicate the presence of disease-causing microorganisms that may cause illness.
Dickinson Bayou does not meet water quality standards for DO or pathogen indicator bacteria.
*** Elevated bacteria (fecal coliform, Escherichia coli and Enterococcus) and depressed dissolved oxygen concentrations (often
Dickinson Bayou Special Study
Dickinson Bayou currently does not meet state requirements for aquatic life or contact recreation
According to the 2005 Galveston Bay Indicators Project, the areas of Galveston Bay with the greatest number of TCEQ criteria-level exceedences for fecal coliform bacteria are Buffalo Bayou, the Houston Ship Channel, Clear Creek, and Dickinson Bayou (Figure 5-60).
Public Health Issues
Clear Creek and Dickinson Bayou have levels of fecal coliform bacteria that exceed the screening levels used by TCEQ to determine which water bodies need to be listed as impaired for historical use. Both water bodies would be considered a health risk for contact recreation.
*** SEE HL&P PERMIT ABOUT MAINTAINING A CONSTANT DREDGE FOR DICKINSON BAYOU AND WHY ***
Saturday, July 18, 2015
DICKINSON BAYOU NEEDS TO BE SAVED, NO MORE TREATED OR NON TREATED WATER DISCHARGE PERMITS
Terry S. Singeltary Sr. Bacliff, Texas USA 77518 Galveston Bay email@example.com
Thank you for submitting your comments on this pending permit application. Thank you for submitting your comments on this pending permit application. You will receive an e-mail confirmation of your comments that you can print for your records.
*If you do not receive an e-mail confirmation within one hour, we HAVE NOT received your comments. If you do not receive confirmation, please be sure to contact the Office of the Chief Clerk immediately at 512-239-3300. Please note, successfully submitting your comments online does not guarantee you filed them timely.
Sent: Monday, July 27, 2015 9:57 PM
Subject: TCEQ Confirmation: Your public comment on Permit Number WQ0004086000 was received.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Oral Comments Public Meeting Clean Harbors San Leon, Inc. WQ0004086000 La Marque 14 01/25/16 Dickinson Bayou
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
CLEAN HARBORS, TCEQ, DICKINSON BAYOU, PUBLIC MEETING JANUARY 25, 2016
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Dickinson Bayou: A TMDL Project and Use Assessment for Bacteria Troubled Waters
Dickinson Bayou: A TMDL Project and Use Assessment for Bacteria
Dead fish symptom of ailing bayous
Harvey Rice Updated 2:45 pm, Monday, November 19, 2012
Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle
Image 1 of 3
Steve Hoyland Sr., co-owner of the monthly SeaBreeze News, runs his boat through Dickinson Bayou. Concerned over fish kills, he hired a lab to test the quality of the water.
SAN LEON - Powering his small boat across Dickinson Bay, Steve Hoyland Sr. worries about fish kills near the mouth of Dickinson Bayou every summer for the last six years.
"I've lived here my whole life, but in the last two years you can't catch (anything)," said Hoyland, 61, part owner of the monthly San Leon Seabreeze News.
Hoyland points to the depth finder to show how silt has clogged the mouth of the bayou and prevented the tide from cleansing it with oxygenated water. "We've got a serious problem here," he said.
Officials charged with overseeing water quality say that fish kills, where thousands of fish die for lack of oxygen in the water, are a symptom of urban encroachment on bayous like Dickinson that lace the Houston region. The urbanized area in the Dickinson Bayou watershed more than doubled between 2002 and 2008.
The 27 miles of Dickinson Bayou that snake through Galveston and Brazoria counties are plagued with low oxygen levels that occasionally kill fish. The bayou is filled with bacteria that can cause illness to swimmers and pollutants such as oil, pesticides, human waste from septic tanks and animal waste washed into the bayou through storm drains.
Of 139 water bodies in Harris and Galveston counties, 91 have excessive bacteria levels that make them unsafe for human contact, 21 have low dissolved oxygen levels and in 33 the cancer-causing toxic contaminants dioxin and PCB have been found in fish tissue, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The bacteria levels in Buffalo Bayou, for example, are generally higher than Dickinson Bayou and pesticides are found in the tissue of fish there in addition to dioxin and PCB, the TCEQ says.
In Dickinson Bayou, E. coli and enteroccus bacteria levels are more than double the federal standard, said Todd Running, clean rivers program manager for the Houston-Galveston Area Council. The federal standard for E. coli is 126 colonies per 100 milliliters of water, Running said, but the levels in the bayou range from 247 to 1,645. The standard for enteroccus, a bacteria measured in the tidal area of the bayou because of its resistance to saltwater, is 35, he said, but bayou levels range from 373 to 8,485.
Public not aware
State and local agencies are working on plans to reduce pollution in the bayous, but they take years to complete and rely on the cooperation of a public that is largely unaware that seemingly unimportant things like leaving pet waste in the yard contribute to the thousands of small incidents that add up to tons of pollution washed through storm drains into the bayou. The TCEQ says that the most common sources of bacteria are wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff, septic tank overflows and failures, and broken sewer lines.
Runoff from residences
"All of our urban streams have issues and it's a result of more people living in the area, more pipes that are more likely to break, plus it's runoff from our yards and our streets and our parking lots," said Charris York, stormwater projects coordinator for the Texas Coastal Watershed Program.
Excess yard fertilizer, household chemicals, septic tank leakage and illegal discharges from wastewater treatment plants add to the load of pollutants draining from 106 square miles of Dickinson Bayou watershed.
There are 11 wastewater treatment plants on Dickinson Bayou. The TCEQ issued its most recent violation notice to KC Utilities in August. The commission fined Meadowland utilities $132,000 in December for seven violations.
The TCEQ estimates that there are 1,546 failing septic tanks in the Dickinson Bayou watershed.
Hoyland published several articles calling attention to the poor water quality at the mouth of the bayou.
He took two experts from Eastex Environmental Laboratory Inc. out on his boat to take water samples at the mouth of Dickinson Bayou and a nearby intake channel cut for the now abandoned Houston Power & Light generating plant that once pulled water from Dickinson Bay for cooling.
"We found areas of concern with dissolved oxygen levels," said Mark Bourgeois, one of the Eastex analysts who took the samples.
Low oxygen levels are typical during the summer on the sluggishly flowing bayou, said Winston Denton, upper coast assessment team leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The long list of documented fish kills because of low oxygen stretches back to the 1970s when federal clean water laws first required reporting.
Call for dredging
Hoyland believes that dredging the mouth of the bayou would allow tidal flows to wash oxygen into the bayou mouth. TCEQ oxygen readings show that on average the bayou's tidal area, unlike the rest of the bayou, meets state oxygen level standards.
Oxygen levels fluctuate, however, and Running said that dredging has improved water quality at the mouth of other bayous, but that there is no guarantee that it would work on Dickinson Bayou.
The TCEQ and local agencies are developing a plan to reduce the pollution to acceptable levels that likely will combine regulations with voluntary compliance. The plan is being written with the assistance of local businesses, cities and residents. "We have a lot of input from different folks who have knowledge," York said. The plan has been in the works for about two years and the draft is expected to be ready for public review early next year, she said.
Meanwhile Hoyland continues to write about water quality problems and hopes that a plan to build a new wastewater treatment plant nearby will include dredging the mouth of Dickinson Bayou. "It would be a great thing if they do something good for the environment," he said.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Galveston County BACLIFF TEXAS FLOUNDER FISH KILL MASSIVE AUGUST 11, 2012 (see video of the dead flounder floating)
Terry Singletary and I have been sampling water from Dickinson Bayou and monitoring continuous fish kills in efforts to get someone to understand the critical condition of this waterway for the past six years. The bayou has a high concentration of fecal matter (human excrement). This is due to an occasional upset in the sewage plants that dump into the bayou, and by old and broken septic tanks along the bayou’s edge. In sampling the dissolved oxygen concentration in the water, we have discovered that the oxygen content is depleted, causing over four miles of a “dead zone” which will not sustain aquatic life. This four mile dead zone is growing at approximately a quarter of a mile every year.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
GALVESTON BAY REPORT CARD 2015
Terry S. Singeltary Sr., Bacliff, Texas, USA
on the bottom...Galveston Bay