Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Thursday, September 6, 2001


Texas to Recoup Nearly $9 Million for Cleanup of Sikes Superfund Site near Houston

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced a $120 million state/federal cost recovery settlement in one of the most involved environmental cleanups on record - the Sikes Disposal Pit Superfund site near Crosby in Harris County. Of this total, the state of Texas will recover $8.7 million, plus interest. Today's proposed consent decree concludes litigation with 26 Houston-area oil refiners and petrochemical companies.

The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency incurred these costs during the removal of chemical and oil-based contamination at the site through the early 1990s.

"Facing vigorous litigation from my office and the U.S. Department of Justice, these defendants agreed to pay for the cost of cleaning up the pollution they created in Harris County," said Attorney General Cornyn. "This $120 million settlement sends a strong message that those who pollute our water, our soil or our air will pay the cost of cleanup. Reaching the settlement was a long and tedious process, but the combined determination of our state and federal government resulted in a huge win for the people of Texas."

Located about two miles southwest of Crosby, the 185-acre unpermitted disposal operation was owned by the Sikes family from 1955 to 1968. Wastes originating from plants and refineries in the Houston area were commingled in pits, ponds, a lake and fields, making the site a classic "chemical soup" Superfund site. Compounds found at the site and known to be hazardous to humans included heavy metals, xylene, benzene, creosote, toluene and many others.

TNRCC contractors opted to excavate to a depth of 30 feet and incinerate contaminated soils and sludges, disposing of the ash residue on site, topped with clean soil. About 500,000 tons of soils and sludges were treated using this method. A water treatment unit was constructed to clean about 350 million gallons of surface and groundwater contaminated with chlorinated and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons.

The entire location lies in the 100-year floodplain of the nearby San Jacinto River, which has flooded the area at least four times since 1969.

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