A GIS-Based Comparative Study of Superfund Contaminants and the Threat They Represent to Eastern Harris County Communities
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There are six Texas Superfund sites that can be found in Eastern Harris County along the San Jacinto River. Three sites north of the I-10 overpass include the French Limited (FLTD), Sikes Disposal Pits (SDP) and Highlands Acid Pits (HAP), all of which contain benzene, metals, Methyl Tert-Butyl Ether, and Volatile Organic Compounds above the Maximum Contaminants Level (MCL) and lie in close proximity to Channelview, Highlands, and Crosby. Three sites to the south of the 1-10 overpass include the San Jacinto River Waste Pits (SJRWP), Patrick’s Bayou (PB) Superfund, and US Oil Recovery (USOR) Superfund site, which contain benzene as well as polychlorinated dioxins, furans, and biphenyls Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins, Polychlorinated dibenzofurans, and Polychlorinated Biphenyls above the MCL and lie near communities in Deer Park, Pasadena, Galena Park, and Jacinto City. Therefore, each Superfund site presents a significant health risk to the nearby urban population centers due to possibility of leakage of contaminants into the San Jacinto River. There are 226,496 people who live and/or work in the aforementioned study area within five miles of at least one Superfund site. Data pooled from each Superfund site was compiled into tables and maps to determine where and which demographics are most at risk of exposure to these toxins. As of 2010, the study area has an approximately 76% Hispanic population with 42% percent of the total population having less than a high school level education, and 38% earning less than $50K annually. These demographic statistics suggest possible communication barriers for the population to respond adequately to a potential health threat. In particular, 17 cancer clusters, which include incidences of brain, melanoma, breast, cervical, kidney, liver, leukemia, and myeloma, were found throughout the study area, excluding only urban areas around USOR (Galena Park, Pasadena, Jacinto City). Bacterial collection in these neighborhoods would indicate the presence of degradation activities and show possible contamination necessitating treatment. Current remediation efforts at the Superfund sites is ongoing, but flooding remains a major threat to urban areas including drinking water wells, residential neighborhoods and parks, as well as elementary schools around the SJRWP and SDP.