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Justice Opens 30-Day Public Comment Period on Proposed Settlement for Natural Resource Damages at Greens Bayou Site, Harris County, Texas


01/29/2013


mouth of Harris County Flood Control District ditch at Greens Bayou, Houston, Texas The mouth of the Harris County Flood Control ditch, shown here in January 2009, empties into Greens Bayou in Harris County, Texas. Hazardous substances released from the Greens Bayou Site have injured this habitat and the resident organisms and wildlife. Photo credit: Tammy Ash, FWS.

 

On January 29, 2013, U.S. Department of Justice opened a 30-day public comment period on a proposed settlement for natural resource damages with 3 parties arising from hazardous substances releases from the Greens Bayou site in Harris County in southeastern Texas. The proposed settlement is embodied in a Consent Decree that was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Southern Division of Texas on January 22, 2013.

The natural resource trustees involved in this case include:

  • State of Texas, represented by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department;
  • U.S. Department of Commerce, represented by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and,
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, represented by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Greens Bayou Site is a 217-acre industrial area bisected by Hayden Road in the City of Houston. Surface water drainage from the site flows to the Harris County Flood Control District ditch, a partially-lined culvert as it passes through the site, which then drains to Greens Bayou. Historical operations at the site released hazardous substances, including DDT compounds. The trustees, in cooperation with the settling parties, determined that these hazardous substances releases injured benthic sediment habitat and organisms, aquatic habitats and organisms, terrestrial wildlife and habitat for State- and federally-protected species, including migratory birds.

Under the proposed settlement in the lodged Consent Decree, the settling parties, jointly and severally, will:

  • Implement intertidal wetlands restoration on at least 10.89 acres within the Baytown Nature Center in Baytown, Harris County, Texas;
  • Preserve 100.17 acres of riparian and bottomland hardwood habitat adjacent to Spring Creek in Montgomery County, Texas, through the execution of a Conservation Easement;
  • Reimburse the trustees’ past assessment costs, including $3,597.73 to DOI, $27,461.51 to NOAA and $13,012.95 to State of Texas; and,
  • Reimburse the trustees’ future administrative costs;

A final, publicly-reviewed “Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment” detailing the specific actions to be implemented to restore the injured natural resources and natural resource services, is incorporated in the proposed Consent Decree as Appendix A.

Written comments on the proposed Consent Decree must be received by U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division by Thursday, February 28, 2013.

Further reading: