AP NEWS

County seeks to remove ‘oily sludge’ from closed Spring landfill

February 7, 2019

Harris County will apply for a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean a closed landfill in Klein.

During the last Harris County Commissioners Court on Feb. 5, the county engineering department was allowed to move forward in submitting a $500,000 grant application to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The EPA will notify during the summer of 2019 if the grant will be awarded. In the meantime, environmental monitoring and project design activities will continue,” said Dimetra Hamilton, spokesperson for the Harris County Engineering Department.

The closed landfill, located at 23601 Rothwood Road, had accumulated oily sludge while it operated in the 1960s, according the grant proposal from Harris County Precinct 4.

The landfill’s oily soil piles are located near the Spring and Willow Creeks, but have been covered with vegetation over the years.

“The piles of material referred to in this grant application have been present on the property for many years. The piles are covered in vegetation and data suggests the hydrocarbons in the soil are not very mobile, but due to its physical proximity to the creeks, the area could be subject to flooding and erosion,” Hamilton said.

If the grant is awarded, the county would need to match 20 percent of the grant, which would be as much as $100,000, she said.

The county may pursue a plan to remove the larger pieces of oily waste and some of the contaminated soil from the property.

The remaining contaminated soil would be compacted under 2 feet of clay and covered with topsoil before being converted into bike and hike trails as part of an expansion of the Spring Creek Greenway.

“A preferred plan would be to remediate an area necessary for park and trail development to expand the Spring Creek Greenway,” Hamilton said.

In total, the remediation and trail plan may cost up to $1.8 million, with the county providing $1.3 million toward the project if it moves forward.

Currently, environmental monitoring and design plans are ongoing for the site.

“The selected alternative will be studied and coordinated with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for approval,” Hamilton said.

Before any work can begin, a plan would need to be approved by the commissioners court first.

mayra.cruz@chron.com