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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.