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Ballard Pits

This former drilling mud and refinery waste disposal site near Robstown, Nueces County, is in the Operation and Maintenance phase of the state Superfund program.

Site History

The Ballard Pits site occupies approximately 296 acres in a rural area located at the end of Ballard Road (also known as 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 quarry at the site and had dug several large pits. In the 1960s (and possibly later), Brine Service Company 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 Service Company 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 nearby residential water wells. The RRC collected additional waste samples from the pits in March 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 coming 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 from the three large pits at the site and from the adjacent utility easement and affected residential properties.

Current Status

The TCEQ completed the remedial investigation and finalized the Affected Property Assessment Report in July 2019. The TCEQ subsequently conducted a feasibility study to develop and analyze potential remedial action alternatives.

In March 2020, the TCEQ issued a Proposed Remedial Action Document (PRAD), which presents the proposed remedial action alternative (remedy) and describes the evaluation process that was used to select the proposed remedy. The TCEQ held a public meeting to receive comment on the proposed remedy for the site on November 5, 2020.  Notice of the public meeting was published in the Texas Register (45 TexReg 6784) and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times newspaper on September 25, 2020.