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Ballard Pits

This former sand and gravel pits site in Robstown, Nueces County is being addressed under the State Superfund Program.

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Most Recent Activities

  • April 2013, a Remedial Investigation Technical Memorandum was completed that summarized the results of the routine groundwater monitoring event and the arsenic background study as follows:
    • Groundwater monitoring - The groundwater analytical results were consistent with previous results for elevated arsenic levels (levels greater than 0.01 mg/L) in a majority of the wells. Elevated arsenic levels were detected in the second groundwater bearing unit at two of the new monitoring well locations. One monitoring well located in the west pit was found to have light non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) in the well and was not sampled.
    • Arsenic background study - An arsenic concentration of 0.0396 mg/L was determined to represent the upper 95% statistical limit of background arsenic in off-site drinking water wells. An arsenic concentration of 0.119 mg/L was determined to represent the upper 95% statistical limit of background arsenic in surface water.
  • March 2013, a scoping meeting in Austin was held to determine requirements for completing an Affected Property Assessment Report (as part of the Remedial Investigation) and initiation of a Feasibility Study.
  • December 2012, three new monitoring wells were installed and screened in the second groundwater bearing unit adjacent to each of the pits, and routine groundwater monitoring of the existing monitoring wells at the site was completed. Water samples from off-site drinking water wells and off-site surface water samples were collected for an arsenic background study.
  • September 20, 2012, Development of a Remedial Investigation work plan (RIWP) is in progress to determine vertical extent of contaminants.  The work plan will support installation of three double cased monitoring wells to be completed one each in the second groundwater bearing unit beneath the east, west and north pits.  The RIWP will also address routine groundwater monitoring of existing on-site and off-site monitoring wells, and a study of background groundwater arsenic levels.  The field work is planned for early October 2012. 
  • July 2012, The Final Historical Chain of Title and Plat Map, and Superfund Sites B Current Property Owner Report was completed to support the effort to file a lien on the property.

Site Background

The Ballard Pits site is a former sand and gravel pit that was used in the late 1960s for storage and disposal of waste material. 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. Historically the Ballard Sand and Gravel Company operated on the property.  The Brine Services Company (Brine Services) used the Ballard property for storage of oilfield drilling mud and disposal of refinery waste in the late 1960s.  In 1968 the Texas Water Quality Board issued an order requiring Brine Services to cease all waste disposal at the property.

In September 2002, the river overflowed its banks and inundated the pits. The Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) responded with collection of samples from the pits, adjacent residential yards, and from four nearby residential water wells. A site assessment was conducted in March of 2003 by the RRC. Sample results led to the conclusion that the pits posed an unacceptable risk to human health.  This evaluation was based on the possibility of direct contact with the waste material.

In October 2004, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated the site as No Further Remedial Action Planned (NFRAP) under Superfund and referred the site to the state for further evaluation. In December 2004, a hazard ranking system (HRS) document was prepared for the Ballard Pits site.  An HRS score of 13.31 was assigned to this site. The HRS is a scoring system developed by the EPA that is used to evaluate potential threats to human health and the environment from hazardous waste sites. The HRS presents a score from 0 to 100, based on the actual or potential release of hazardous substances that will affect human health or the environment from a site. A legal notice Exit TCEQ Site was published on January 13, 2006, in the Texas Register (31 TexReg 316-317) describing the site and proposing the site for listing on the state Superfund registry.


The site is located in a rural area of active sand and gravel mining where the surface geology consists of sand from the Pliocene Goliad Formation.  The two pits that comprise the site were created by sand and gravel mining and are designated the East and West Pits. The TCEQ performed Immediate Removal actions at the West Pit in 2008.  This pit has been backfilled to grade after approximately 16,000 tons of waste materials generated from the cleanup of the pit were disposed in an approved waste disposal facility.  The East Pit is estimated to have a volume of 30,000 cubic yards.

The constituents which comprise the Chemicals of Concern (COCs) at the Ballard Pits site are found in four of the chemical classes: (1) Metals, (2) Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), (3) Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and (4) Semi-volatile Organic Compounds (SVOCs).  The most prevalent COCs in the soil at the Ballard Pits site are SVOCs and VOCs.

Surface Water

The pits are within a half mile of the Nueces River, and flood waters have inundated the impoundments in the past. The nearest drinking water intakes, serving 284,601 people, are located more than two miles downstream of the pits. The potential for releases of hazardous substances from the impoundments into the Nueces River is a concern. Removal activities underway at the site are aimed at mitigating this threat in the short term, and eliminating it upon completion of the removal action.


Groundwater contamination has been detected in site monitoring wells.The TCEQ routinely samples onsite monitoring wells, and up until February 2012 nearby residential wells, to monitor for groundwater impacts from the pits. All private wells sampled were compared to the federal Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) which represent safe levels for these constituents in drinking water. To date, no groundwater impacts from COCs attributable to the site have been detected in nearby residential water wells.

Current Status and New Developments

All removal actions have been completed at the West and East pits. Cleanup of the adjacent utility easement and affected residential properties has also been completed.

An additional area of contamination designated as the North Pit has been confirmed on the northern part of the property. The North Pit is more than a quarter mile away from the nearest residential sector. To date, no contaminants of concern attributable to the site have been detected in neighboring residential water wells or surface water.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ or agency) conducted an Open House Availability Session regarding the site on Thursday, October 22, 2009 from 6:30p.m. to 8:30p.m. at the Calallen Middle School located at 4602 Cornett Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas.

For more information, including historical data and reports, please visit the site repository located at the Corpus Christi Public Library, Northwest Branch, 3202 McKinzie Road, Corpus Christi, Texas, (361) 241-9329. The complete public record may be obtained at the commission’s Central File Room.

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Site Specific Information

Site Specific Information

EPA ID : TXD980622922
Location : Ballard Pits, Robstown, Nueces County
Site Status : HRS Complete
Type of Facility :
Category : Proposed to Superfund Registry
Media Affected : Soil, Sediment, Groundwater
Latitude : 27º53'11"N
Longitude : 97º40'59"W
Hazard Ranking Score (HRS) : 13.31
Contaminants at time of HRS : Metals, Polychlorinated Biphenyls, Volatile and Semivolatile Organic Compounds.
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, TX 78410

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