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AGENCY Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
ISSUE 03/07/2008
ACTION Miscellaneous

Notice of Meeting on April 17, 2008, in Somerset, Texas, Concerning the Pioneer Oil and Refining Proposed State Superfund Site

The purpose of the meeting is to obtain public input and information concerning the proposed remedy for the Pioneer Oil and Refining state Superfund site (the site).

The executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ or commission) is issuing this public notice of a proposed selection of remedy for the site. In accordance with 30 TAC §335.349(a) concerning requirements for the remedial action, and Texas Health and Safety Code (THSC), §361.187, concerning the proposed remedial action, a public meeting regarding the commission's selection of a proposed remedy for the site shall be held. The statute requires that the commission shall publish notice of the meeting in the Texas Register and in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the facility is located at least 30 days before the date of the public meeting. This notice was also published in the San Antonio Express-News, on March 7, 2008, and the Lytle Leader-News in Lytle, Texas, on March 6, 2008.

The public meeting is scheduled for April 17, 2008, at 7:00 p.m., at the Somerset City Hall, 7360 East 6th Street, Somerset, Texas. The public meeting is not a contested case hearing under the Texas Government Code, Chapter 2001.

The site for which a remedy is being proposed, the site was proposed for listing on the state registry of Superfund sites on September 25, 1990 (15 TexReg 5623) and accepted into the State Superfund Program. The real property, a 12-acre tract on which the Pioneer Oil refinery was located, was operated as a refinery between the late 1910's and the late 1940's. Business names associated with the site included Rainbow Oil and Refining Company, Slimp Oil Company, and Pioneer Oil. Rainbow conveyed the refinery and the lease to Pioneer Oil and Refining Company in 1920. Pioneer was dissolved in 1949. Property ownership was in the Kurz family (prior to 1961), J.W. and Mary L. James from 1961 - 1977, and the City of Somerset (1977 - present).

Oil and oil products, including roofing tar, were produced during the operation at the facility. During the operation, the facility had at least 25 aboveground tanks, at least five refining buildings, a pond and two sludge ponds, and a rail service to transport products. Two sludge ponds, two oil wells, two brick aboveground tanks, and several buildings associated with the refining process still remain on site.

The TCEQ has conducted a Hazard Ranking System evaluation of the site and the site earned a Hazard Ranking System score of 24.54, which qualified the site for the State Superfund program. A Remedial Investigation was conducted by the TCEQ. The Remedial Investigation determined that the sludge in the two impoundments and soil in the contaminated areas have lead, benzene and total petroleum hydrocarbons over the critical protective concentration level. The sludge in the ponds has a pH less than 2. Groundwater was determined to be contaminated with arsenic, lead, benzene and total petroleum hydrocarbons above the critical protective concentration level. Treatability studies were conducted to determine remedies for the soil and sludge and the groundwater.

Based on the results of the treatability studies, a feasibility study, dated January 2008, screened and evaluated remedies for the site. The Feasibility Study report evaluated four remedies each for the contaminated soil and sludge and for the contaminated groundwater. These remedies were combined to identify the most effective remedial alternative in terms of technical feasibility, reliability, and costs which will effectively mitigate and minimize the damage to the environment and provide adequate protection of public health.

Based on these criteria the TCEQ recommends: 1) excavation of contaminated soil and sludge from the west pond with consolidation of the excavated materials into the east pond. The excavated soil and sludge will be mixed with lime, cement, or similar materials to increase the pH to around 8.0 and to increase the compressive strength of the mixture to withstand the weight of an engineered cap; and 2) a plume management zone with monitored natural attenuation for the contaminated groundwater. The remedy will also include installation of a fence and warning signs around the perimeter of the cap to restrict access. A deed notice will be recorded describing the containment area and the plume management zone area. Post-closure maintenance of the cap and groundwater monitoring will be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the remediation effort. The recommended alternative is the most cost effective, reasonable, and appropriate remedy to address the site.

All persons desiring to make comments may do so prior to or at the public meeting. All comments submitted prior to the public meeting must be received in writing by 5:00 p.m. on April 16, 2008 and should be sent in writing to Mr. Subhash C. Pal, P.E., Project Manager, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Remediation Division, State Lead Section, MC 136, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, Texas 78711-3087, or facsimile at (512) 239-2450. The public comment period for this action will end at the close of the public meeting on April 17, 2008.

A portion of the record for this site including documents pertinent to the proposed remedy is available for review during regular business hours at the San Antonio Public Library, 600 Soledad, San Antonio, Texas or the City of Somerset Administrative Office, 7360 East 6th Street, Somerset, Texas. Copies of the complete public record file may be obtained during business hours at the commission's Records Management Center, Building E, First Floor, Records Customer Service, MC 199, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin, Texas 78753, (800) 633-9363 or (512) 239-2920. Photocopying of file information is subject to payment of a fee. Parking for persons with disabilities is available on the east side of Building D, convenient to access ramps that are between Buildings D and E.

Information is also available regarding the state Superfund program at www.tceq.state.tx.us/remediation/superfund/index.html.

Persons with disabilities who have special communication or other accommodation needs who are planning to attend the meeting should contact the agency at (800) 633-9363 or (512) 239-5674. Requests should be made as far in advance as possible.

For further information about this site or the public meeting, please call John Flores, TCEQ Community Relations, at (800) 633-9363, extension 5674.


Mary R. Risner

Director, Litigation Division

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Filed: February 26, 2008

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