This Harris County Superfund site is ‘vulnerable’ to flooding

French Limited capped decades ago, but Crosby-area neighbors worried it’s not enough

HOUSTON – A 55-acre Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site near Crosby, where an estimated 90 million gallons of industrial waste was dumped between 1966 and 1972, has flooded repeatedly in the last five years, and neighbors are worried the chemicals are migrating away from the site.

There is no definitive evidence that is the case, but a 2017 EPA report showed that there was evidence that some “chemicals of concern” had gotten through a barrier containment wall within the property.

NBC News, the Texas Observer, and have partnered for an extensive investigation into the role climate change is playing with Superfund sites across the U.S.

“The prediction with climate change is that our storms will get bigger, we’ll see these huge rainfalls more and more often and it will affect these Superfund sites,” said professor Jim Blackburn, of Rice University’s Baker Institute.

Blackburn is an environmental lawyer by trade. He is convinced the EPA needs to revisit Superfund sites in areas prone to flooding, hurricanes and sea-level rise because these symptoms of climate change were never figured into Superfund site remediation plans.

“We just weren’t looking at these factors in the past," Blackburn said. “We’ve got to go back and re-evaluate these sites, in my opinion.”

In 2014, a regional EPA report noted: “Engineered caps may no longer be protective of human health and the environment if climate changes result in frequent, massive flooding ...”

The EPA’s most recent strategic plan, released in February 2018, makes no mention of climate change in the entire 51-page report.