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Ballard Pits

The TCEQ Superfund Program is conducting a remedial investigation at this site comprised of former drilling fluid and refinery waste disposal pits near Robstown, Nueces County.

Site History

The Ballard Pits site occupies 297 acres in a rural area on property owned by the C.F. Ballard Residuary Trust and Mamie Helen Ballard. The site is located at the end of Ballard Lane, west of its intersection with County Road 73, approximately 5.8 miles north of Robstown in Nueces County. The Ballard Sand and Gravel Company had formerly operated a sand and gravel mining operation at the site and had dug several large pits. In the 1960s (and possibly later), Brine Service Company (and possibly other oil services companies) picked up oil-field drilling mud and refinery waste from companies/facilities in the Corpus Christi area and brought it to the Ballard property for disposal in the unlined pits. In 1968, the Texas Water Quality Board issued an order requiring Brine Services to cease all waste disposals at the site. In September 2002, the pits were flooded and nearby residents reported an oily sheen on the water of their flooded yards. The Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) responded with collection of samples from the pits, adjacent residential yards, and from four nearby residential water wells. The RRC collected additional waste samples from the pits in March of 2003. Sample results led to the conclusion that the pits posed an unacceptable risk to human health. This evaluation was based on the possibility of persons to come into direct contact with the waste material.

Superfund Registry and Cleanup

The TCEQ proposed the site to the state Superfund registry in January 2006. In 2008, 2009, and 2014, removal actions were conducted to excavate and properly dispose of contaminated waste material in three large pits at the site. Cleanup of the adjacent utility easement and affected residential properties has also been completed.

Current Status

The TCEQ is currently conducting the remedial investigation. To date, known impacted media includes soils and shallow groundwater. Chemicals of concern include polychlorinated biphenyls, metals, volatile organic compounds, and semi-volatile organic compounds.

The nearby Nueces River and nearby private water wells do not appear to be impacted by contamination from the site.

An Affected Property Assessment Report documenting the remedial investigation at the site is currently under review.

Site Specific Information

Type of Facility: Sand and gravel quarry used for disposal of oil refinery and drilling fluid waste material
Location: Robstown, Nueces County
Latitude: 27.886389°
Longitude: -97.683056°
Site Phase: remedial investigation
State Superfund Registry Status: proposed to registry
Media Affected: soil, groundwater
TCEQ Region: Corpus Christi - 14
Funded by: Hazardous & Solid Waste Remediation Fee Account

Contact Information
Superfund Project Manager
Jeff Beckage

Superfund Community Relations Liaison
Crystal Taylor
512-239-3844 or 1-800-633-9363

Records Repositories

Corpus Christi Public Library
3202 McKinzie Road
Corpus Christi, Texas 78410

TCEQ Central File Room
12100 Park 35 Circle Building E,
First Floor Room 103
Austin, TX 78753
512-239-1850 (fax)

Required use of SW-846 Method 5035

New Information

Beginning January 1, 2016, the TCEQ Remediation Division will require the use of United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) SW846 Method 5035A, Purge-and-Trap and Extraction for Volatile Organics in Soil and Waste Samples, as amended, for the collection and preparation of solid samples for volatile organic compound (VOC) analysis using purge-and-trap technology.

The TCEQ Remediation Division guidance on Method 5035 has been updated and is available.