DEER PARK, Texas – A Deer Park company reportedly agreed to receive millions of gallons of toxic wastewater that was used to fight fires during the Ohio train derailment.
Texas Molecular received 747,000 gallons of hazardous wastewater from East Palestine, Ohio following this month’s train derailment.
“Our permit allows over 230 million gallons annually, and this volume is well within our authorizations, capabilities and experience,” said Jimmy Bracher, an executive at Texas Molecular in a statement to KPRC 2. “We process approximately five to seven million gallons each month. We have done many major projects with similar volumes (and some with even larger volumes).”
A spokesperson for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said Texas Molecular has three approved Class 1 deep-well injection wells.
In a statement to KPRC 2, a TCEQ spokesperson said Texas Molecular will have to “store and treat [industrial and hazardous waste] wastes in tanks and containers prior to deep-well injection onsite or shipment offsite to a permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facility or recycler.”
Thomas Teets, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Houston, says the company will likely remove the waste by injecting it thousands of feet into the ground.
“By injecting it into the ground, it’s going to a depth where it’s not going to really encounter humans or impact our lives in any way,” Teets said. “It’s because of the ability to prevent environmental exposure. Meanwhile, there are also incineration processes that are used for some type of waste, but of course, then you’re releasing the combustion by-product into the air.”
Statewide, there are 104 active permits for hazardous waste disposal facilities and 58 constructed wells. Last year, those facilities disposed of 1.27 million tons of hazardous waste between January to November 2022, according to TCEQ.
“We have the facilities to do it,” Teets said. “The expertise to do it, and I’m sure that went into the decision why it was sent here.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency paused sending more of the material to Texas pending review.
“EPA is continuing to evaluate options for safe and proper disposal facilities with the capacity sufficient to handle the need of this cleanup,” said Debra Shore, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator.
TEXAS COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY’S RESPONSE TO KPRC 2 QUESTIONS:
When did the state approve the disposal of the material from East Palestine, Ohio? How is it being disposed of? Will it be put into the ground and covered? Can you explain the process of removal? Permitted hazardous waste disposal facilities do not have to notify the TCEQ prior to receiving waste shipments, but they must submit monthly waste receipt summaries to TCEQ detailing the waste streams received.
TM Deer Park operates a commercial industrial and hazardous waste (IHW) management facility that stores and treats IHW wastes in tanks and containers prior to deep-well injection onsite or shipment offsite to a permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facility or recycler. TM Deer Park has three Class 1 injection wells. TM Deer Park will store and treat the wastewater from Ohio before ultimate disposal in their onsite Class 1 (deep-well) injection wells.
Are there any health hazards you all look out for? Hazardous waste permits include specific and detailed information about what wastes the facility may manage and how the facility will be designed and operated to manage those wastes safely to meet relevant rules and good engineering practice. Hazardous waste permits include information on the design and construction of disposal units, traffic impacts, emergency response preparedness, waste acceptance plans, and many other technical details.
The disposal facility is responsible for ensuring the waste is accepted in compliance with the authorized waste streams and hazardous waste codes and is managed according to the disposal methods authorized by the RCRA hazardous waste permit. Disposal facilities will require incoming waste streams to have accompanying analytical data that verifies waste concentrations and constituents to ensure proper handling and disposal.
Will they be monitored during this process? Will TCEQ employees be around for it? Permitted hazardous waste facilities have to submit monthly and annual waste summaries on the amount of waste received, pay fees on the amount of waste managed, and maintain a variety of other records, reports, and data onsite and make it available for a compliance inspection.
TCEQ staff conduct investigations at facilities to ensure regulated entities comply with applicable environmental rules and regulations through issuance of notices of violations (NOVs) and formal notices of enforcement (NOEs). Where possible, staff work with regulated entities to ensure violations are resolved in a timely manner.
How often are chemical materials disposed of in Texas? In Harris County? There are 104 active permits for hazardous waste disposal facilities and 58 constructed hazardous waste disposal wells currently permitted and active in Texas. From January to November 2022, based on fees paid by permitted hazardous waste disposal and injection facilities to TCEQ, these facilities disposed of 1.27 million tons of hazardous waste and 732,567 tons of industrial Class 1 waste.
How many injection wells are there in Texas and in Harris County?
There are 76 Active Class I permits (both non-commercial and commercial) for hazardous waste disposal. Of the 76 authorized wells, 58 have been drilled.