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Questions or Comments:

Rio Grande Refinery I

No further Superfund environmental response actions are required on this former refinery in Sour Lake, Hardin County.

Site Background

The Rio Grande Refinery I site is located south of State Highway 105 between Ann and Fannin streets in Sour Lake. Originally proposed to the Superfund registry as one location in 1987, the 11 acres was re-identified as Rio Grande Refinery I, the former refinery, and Rio Grande Refinery II, a former non-related storage facility for refined fuels, after documentation was submitted showing no physical or business connection between the two tracts. Constructed in 1923, the refinery began operating in 1925 and processed crude oil and discarded liquid wastes from the refining process into a one-acre unlined pit. The wastes hardened into a thick tar-like substance. The refinery was shut down and dismantled around 1935. The City of Sour Lake and Amoco, Inc., each owned portions of the site. The city constructed a sewage treatment plant on its northeastern portion of the Rio Grande Refinery I property. When trenches were dug for the piping associated with the construction of the treatment plant, oily substances, believed to be tank bottom waste, was observed seeping into the trenches. The material was excavated and removed for off-site disposal.

Superfund Actions Taken to Date:

  • July 25, 1986, a legal notice was published in the Texas Register (11 TexReg 3421) announcing a series of public meetings across the state to collect information and receive comments on constituting the initial state Superfund registry and announcing a hearing would be held at the Houston-Galveston Area Council of Governments on August 21, 1986 and a second hearing would be held at the Stephen F. Austin Building in Austin on August 28, 1986.
  • January 16, 1987, a legal notice was published in the Texas Register (12 TexReg 205) recommending a cleanup alternative of excavation, off-site transport and disposal of contaminated soil.
  • November 1987, the responsible parties removed 3,410 cubic yards of crusted tar-
    like material and surrounding soil. The material was transported off-site for disposal.
  • July 1989, a community relations plan was prepared for the Rio Grande Refining site.
  • August 1990, the remedial investigation and risk assessment identified one small pit in Rio Grande Refinery I that was contaminated with oily sludge believed to be tank bottom waste. The oily material was removed by the responsible parties and the site was revegetated with trees.
  • May 8, 1991, legal notices were published in the Hardin County News and the Hometown News proposing to delete the site from the state Superfund registry in accordance with 30 TAC §335.344(c); announcing a public meeting to receive citizen comments would be held May 29, 1991, at Sour Lake, and setting a period of 30 days for comment on the determination that the site no longer presents an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health and safety or the environment. No further remedial action planned.
  • May 29, 1991, a public meeting was held at the City Hall in Sour Lake. Discussion focused on possible deletion of Rio Grande Refinery I from the state Superfund registry after expiration of the 30-day public comment period, and the referral of Rio Grande Refinery II to the Texas Railroad Commission for any further action.
  • August 9, 1991, a legal notice was published in the Texas Register, (16 TexReg 4377) officially deleting Rio Grande Refinery 1 from the state Superfund registry.

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