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Waste Program Successes

From Eyesore to Art Destination: The Transformation of Lost Pines Art Center

Two large tanks, a rusted 50 gallon drumn, old shells of cars and various other debris litter the grounds.The cars in front of the mechanic shop were almost as rusty as the abandoned grain silos themselves. Although this piece of property was located centrally in Bastrop, concerns over potential environmental liability had up to this point precluded redevelopment. But for the Lost Pines Art League of Bastrop, the property was perfect for a new art center with galleries, classroom space, and a creek path that meandered through a sculpture garden and past the existing silos. They secured a $100,000 grant from the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation and a matched grant of $100,000 from a Houston arts foundation and began on the ambitious project. It took a bold vision to imagine this land as a destination art center, but that vision is finally being realized.

Before the project could move forward, the art league needed to determine if there was contamination at the site. To address those environmental concerns, the site entered the TCEQ Brownfields Site Assessment Program in 2010. Approximately $88,000 was spent by the TCEQ and EPA to investigate the site. After response actions for the site achieved residential land use standards, a Conditional Certificate of Completion was issued on August 12, 2012.

The Lost Pines Art League was then able to purchase the property and began fundraising for the new art center. They developed a master plan for the site and presented it at an event at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, where the room, equipment, and refreshments were provided as in-kind contributions. From that, the Bastrop City Council approved a $100,000 investment. Once they had shown that the project was destined for success, Outside the Lost Pines Art Center building facing the front.the money started pouring in. They leveraged over $3.8 million in various grants and donations, including ArtPlace America’s Creative Placemaking 2014 Grant.

The main building was completed in December 2016 and since then over 13,000 non-members have visited the center. In 2017, it won the Best of Bastrop Art Galleries award as well as the Best New Construction Under 50k population and Best New Construction People’s Choice Awards from the Texas Downtown Association. This project exemplifies the amount of funding that can be leveraged from a small state investment in assessment and the impact that redeveloping a brownfield property can have on a community. Starting with that initial environmental assessment, what was once an eyesore has become an award-winning art destination for Bastrop.

For more information contact the TCEQ Brownfields Site Assessment Program by email at brnflds@tceq.texas.gov or contact the BSA Program Manager at (512) 239-2252.

 

Debris Cleanup Tools Created From TCEQ Funding

The Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) used funding from the Regional Solid Waste Grants Program to provide a series of award-winning educational tools on hurricane preparedness and clean-up for communities across the region before and after Hurricane Harvey. Modified truck with claw picking up debris after the hurricane.

After Hurricane Harvey, everyone was anxious to get their property back to normal and quickly started moving debris to the curb for removal. Debris that was properly separated made it easier for contractors to remove and ensured that recyclable materials were not sent to a landfill.

To highlight the proper way residents should handle debris after a disaster, HGAC produced a poster and videos that cities and other governments could display on their municipal channels, websites, and social media. The posters and videos were used by over a dozen communities and agencies affected by the storm.

The TCEQ Regional Solid Waste Grants Program provides grants to the 24 councils of governments (COGs) to fund solid waste management activities and projects, like illegal dumping cleanup, recycling bins at schools, and educational materials. Funding for the program is collected from fees for the disposal of waste at landfills.

 

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 Mapping Project

Contour MapThis 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.

 

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 impCentral Library in Austinroved, 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 existinginfrastructure 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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