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Rio Grande Refinery II

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

Site Background

The Rio Grande Refinery II 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, an unrelated former storage facility for transformers, after documentation was submitted showing no physical or business connection between the two tracts. Rio Grande Refinery II is located to the north of Rio Grande Refinery I and was formerly owned by the Rio Bravo Oil Company. A 55,000-barrel storage tank dating from the early 1900s was dismantled and removed in 1949. As late as 1967, aerial photographs identified 3 lagoons, although there is no information available as to who constructed the lagoons. The current owner of the property stated that drilling mud had been disposed of on his acreage during the 1960s and 1970s. Rio Grande Refinery II was also used as a storage site for transformers that used PCBs as coolant. After removal of the transformers, there was no trace of PCB contamination.

Superfund Actions Taken to Date

  • July 25, 1986, a legal notice was published in the Texas Register, proposing the site to the state Superfund registry, and announcing a public meeting to receive citizen comments would be held at the Coastal Bend Council of Governments Conference Room in Corpus Christi on August 26, 1986.
  • 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 for the Rio Grande Refining site was prepared. (This PDF file does not include illustrations or copies of documents cited as references. The complete community relations plan is available as part of official repository records at the Sour Lake City Hall and at the TNRCC Records Management Center.)
  • 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 presented 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 and II 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 2 from the state Superfund registry in accordance with 30 TAC §335.344(c), and referring the site to the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) for further action. Metals had been detected in levels of concern
    after removal of several transformers, but because the material was generated during exploration and drilling of natural gas or crude oil, jurisdiction was referred to the RRC.

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