Trustees Announce Completion of Restoration Projects for Natural Resources Injured by Hazardous Substances Releases at Port Arthur Refinery, Southeastern Texas
Clumps of planted marsh grasses, including Spartina patens and Scirpus maritimus, in a restored estuarine marsh in the lower Neches River looking towards Bridge City, Texas, is shown here in February 2013. Photo credit: Jamie Schubert, NOAA/NMFS.
On May 20, 2013, the federal and State natural resource trustees announced the successful completion of restoration projects for natural resources injured by hazardous substances and oil releases at the Port Arthur Refinery, also known as the Old Gulf Oil Refinery, in Port Arthur, Jefferson County, southeastern Texas.
The natural resource trustees in this case include:
- State of Texas, represented by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas General Land Office;
- 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 Port Arthur Refinery occupies approximately 3,800 acres in an industrial area on the southwest side of Port Arthur, close to the Texas-Louisiana border. Gulf Oil Co. began refining Texas crude oil at this site in 1902. Chevron U.S.A, Inc. merged with Gulf Oil Co. in 1984 and then sold the site in 1995. The site remains an active refinery today operated by The Premcor Refining Group, Inc.
In a cooperative natural resource damage assessment beginning in 1999, the trustees, working with Chevron, determined that hazardous substances -- including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, lead, nickel, chromium, zinc and copper -- were released from the site to soils, surface water, sediments and groundwater. These releases injured natural resources including open water, sediments, wetlands, terrestrial habitats, migratory birds, terrestrial receptors and benthic aquatic invertebrates.
The trustees settled natural resource damage claims with Chevron in a Consent Decree entered by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division in 2004. The settlement was valued at $4.4 million. A publicly-reviewed Restoration Plan, prepared by the trustees in 2004, selected three, preferred restoration projects designed to create or enhance estuarine habitat in the Sabine Lake/Neches River basin:
- construction of 83 acres of coastal wetland in the Old River South Unit of the Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area;
- construction of 30 acres of coastal wet prairie; and,
- construction of water control structures and levees systems to restore soil moisture to enhance wildlife management of the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area.
The construction phase of these natural resource restoration projects was completed in 2009. After a monitoring period, the trustees certified the projects as successfully completed in 2013.
- NOAA Announcement (dated May 20, 2013)
- Consent Decree (entered 2004)
- Restoration Plan (dated September 10, 2004)
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