>> Questions or Comments: ac@tceq.texas.gov
You are here:

Waste Program Successes

Water Balance Cover Soil Research and Design Project

Beginning in 2012, with funding by MSW industry stakeholders and with TCEQ oversight, a research and design project was conducted by a professor at the University of North Carolina, culminating in 2016 with state-wide Water Balance Cover soil thickness design tables. Use of the design tables significantly reduces site-specific engineering evaluation and modeling time and their associated costs. Agency staff time for review and approval of applications using the design tables is reduced as well, resulting in a win-win for both industry and the TCEQ.

Water Balance Covers typically consist of one or more layers of soil, and utilize the physical characteristics of the soil to store water during wetter periods and releasing the water during drier periods by evaporation and plant transpiration and thereby minimizing downward percolation of water through the cover into the waste mass. It is generally accepted that excessive water entering a landfill through the final cover increases the potential for contaminant release through the landfill liner to area groundwater.

The major advantages of a Water Balance Cover are:

  • Provides a better medium for robust plant growth that in turn reduces soil erosion loss;
  • Provides a bio-filtering mechanism for landfill gas;
  • By eliminating the geomembrane component of the final cover, increased geotechnical stability is realized; and
  • Over most of the state, a Water Balance cover can be installed at equal or less cost as the prescriptive cover.
Large Component from Sturgis Nuclear Barge Disposed at Texas Radioactive Waste Site

In June 2017, Waste Control Specialists (WCS), the operator of Texas’ low-level radioactive waste disposal site located in Andrews County, completed the disposal of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) from the U.S. Army’s MH-1A reactor aboard the nuclear barge Sturgis. Decommissioning of the country’s first floating nuclear power station is ongoing in Galveston under the supervision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The RPV was removed from the barge and placed inside its specially-designed shielded shipping container with a combined weight of approximately 81 tons and transported over 600 miles via road to the WCS site.

Disposal of the RPV required extensive planning and engineering design, all of which was reviewed and approved by the TCEQ. The RPV was offloaded from the delivery vehicle, carried down the ramp into the disposal cell using specialized equipment, placed on a concrete slab base, and encased in approximately 57 cubic yards of concrete rated with a compressive strength of 2,000 pounds per square inch. All disposal operations were conducted under the observation of the two resident inspectors deployed by the TCEQ.

2017 UIC Mickey Leland Intern: Geologic Mappint Project

This summer, the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Permits Section Mickey Leland intern developed a geologic structure map of the top of the basement rocks in the northern Texas panhandle. This is a region covering 20 counties and an area of about 20,000 square miles. The intern developed the map using well logs from the TCEQ and the Groundwater Advisory Group of the Texas Railroad Commission, scout cards, drillers logs, and information from the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology. The maps will enable UIC staff to better evaluate applications for deep Class I injection well permits and renewals within the panhandle area relating to seismicity potential. 

The maps will provide UIC staff better information on the depth to basement from the base of an injection zone. Knowing the thickness of sediments from the base of the injection zone to the top of the basement is important to UIC staff in evaluating whether pressure increases or injected fluids could travel, or might have traveled downward to the basement, where faults with seismic potential may be located. If this separation is thousands of feet, there is less of a chance the increased pressure or fluids could reach the basement. The intern presented this work at the Groundwater Protection Council’s Annual Forum in Boston in September 2017 and was awarded Second Place in the Student Poster Session.

Contour Map

From Electric Power to Brain Power

The Seaholm Substation site was once a tangle of electrical wires that provided the sole source of power for the City of Austin. As distribution technology improved, new infrastructure was built and the substation was decommissioned. Occupying one of the most desirable locations the city owned in downtown Austin, the site entered the Voluntary Cleanup Program in 2010. Approximately 1.3 acres were investigated and contamination was remediated with TCEQ oversight. Approximately 22,300 cubic yards of impacted soils containing polychlorinated biphenyls, total petroleum hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, and metals were excavated and disposed. A Final Certificate of Completion for residential land use was issued in January 2013, allowing the redevelopment of the site into Austin’s new state-of-the-art Central Library. The $123 million project includes a rooftop garden, laptop checkouts, and a concert space that can hold 350 people. The area is designated as the Seaholm EcoDistrict, combining new sustainable features with the existing infrastructure that represents its industrial past.

TCEQ voluntary programs promote the redevelopment of brownfields, or contaminated properties. These sites can often be returned to productive reuse with investigation and remediation of the soil and groundwater. Redevelopment of these sites, especially in cities where infill development is limited, improves the property value, tax revenue, and employment on formerly non-productive areas.

Central Library in Austin