Superfund Research Program Celebrates 25th Anniversary

As a toxicologist and a clean air advocate, I was pleased to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Superfund Research Program (SRP) last week.

SRP is a network of university grants supporting research to find solutions to the complex health and environmental issues associated with our nation's hazardous waste sites, known as Superfund sites.

One of SRP’s primary goals is to address public health concerns arising from the release of hazardous substances into the environment, substances that contribute to air pollution as well as land and water pollution. The research results help toxicologists like me and other professionals make informed policy, regulatory, and risk reduction decisions.

The SRP and Superfund Connection

SRP’s research is a coordinated effort with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund Program, established by Congress in 1980 after concerned citizens elevated the issue of numerous hazardous waste sites, abandoned warehouses, and landfills. The program involves cleaning up these sites, and if possible, restoring them to productive use in the community.

The process begins with site discovery or notification to EPA of possible releases of hazardous substances by various parties, including citizens, state agencies, and EPA staff. Once discovered, EPA enters the site into its computerized inventory of potential hazardous substance release sites, evaluates the information, and determines any associated risk.

Significance to Texas

The SRP has funded research finding solutions for clean-up of Superfund areas – solutions that have been used to remediate sites in Texas. For example, SRP helped fund work that eventually led the company Aquamost LLC to develop a device that treats groundwater contaminated with organic pollutants released from leaking underground storage tanks. The device has been deployed in hydraulic fracking areas in West Texas.

Additionally, research on Superfund pollutants completed in Texas is some of the most cited work in the peer-reviewed literature on environmental contaminants. Work from Dr. Steve Safe on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and related compounds has aided understanding of the environmental and mechanistic implications of pollutant exposures.

Current Superfund Sites in Texas

Texas, as it turns out, is home to 60 Superfund sites, some of which may be near your community. See the list below to find out if there is a site near you. In addition, you can download a PDF to find out more about the background of a particular site, current status, health considerations, and more.

Texas Site Status Summaries

1.       Air Force Plant #4(General Dynamics)
2.       Alcoa/Lavaca Bay
3.       Attebury Grain Storage Facility
4.       Bailey Waste Disposal
5.       Bandera Road Groundwater Plume
6.       Bio-Ecology Systems, Inc.
7.       Brine Service Company
8.       Brio Refining, Inc.
Circle Court Ground Water Plume
9.       City of Perryton Water Well #2
10.    Conroe Creosote
11.    Crystal Chemical Co.
12.    Crystal City Airport
13.    Dixie Oil Processors, Inc.
14.    Donna Reservoir and Canal
15.    East 67th Street Ground Water Plume
16.    El Paso County/Dona Ana County Metals
17.    Falcon Refinery
18.    French, Ltd.
19.    Garland Creosoting
20.    Geneva Industries/Fuhrmann Energy
21.    Gulfco Marine Maintenance
22.    Hart Creosoting Company
23.    Highlands Acid Pit
24.    Jasper Creosoting Company
25.    Jones Road Ground Water Plume
26.    Koppers Co., Inc. (Texarkana Plant)
27.    Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant
28.    Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant
29.    Malone Services Company
30.    Many Diversified Interests, Inc.
31.    Midessa Ground Water Plume
32.    MOTCO, Inc.
33.    North Cavalcade Street
34.    Odessa Chromium #1
35.    Odessa Chromium #2
36.    Old ESCO
37.    Palestine Arsenic
38.    Palmer Barge Line
39.    Pantex Plant (USDOE)
40.    Patrick Bayou
41.    Pesses Chemical Co.
42.    Petro-Chemical Systems, Inc. (Turtle Bayou)
43.    RSR Corp. (Murph Metals)
44.    Rockwool Industries, Inc.
45.    Sandy Beach Road
46.    San Jacinto River Waste Pits
47.    Sheridan Disposal Services
48.    Sikes Disposal Pits
49.    Sol Lynn/Industrial Transformers
50.    South Cavalcade Street
51.    Sprague Road
52.    Star Lake Canal
53.    State Marine of Port Arthur
54.    State Road 114 Ground Water Plume
55.    Stewco, Inc.
56.    Tex-Tin Corporation
57.    Texarkana Wood Preserving Co.
58.    Triangle Chemical Co.
59.    United Creosoting Co.
60.    West County Road

To learn more about the history and successes of the Superfund Research Program over the past 25 years, check out the SRP website and 25th Anniversary commemorative report. Thanks to work from SRP, Texas is just a little bit cleaner of a place to live.

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