The Environmental Protection Agency named a notorious oil recovery and wastewater treatment plant in Pasadena as one of the nation’s most polluted places Thursday.
The federal agency said it will place the defunct Richey Street facility on the Superfund list, the first step in stanching the flow of industrial wastes into nearby Vince Bayou.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requested the designation after linking the former U.S. Oil Recovery facility to contamination in the bayou.
The public has 60 days to comment before the site is formally added to the cleanup list.
The facility received and treated oily waste, sludge and other contaminants from 2002 until 2010, when a Harris County judge ordered its closure because of violations of environmental laws.
Last month, the firm’s owner, Klaus Genssler, agreed to pay more than $3 million to settle a lawsuit by Harris County, which accused him of operating the facility in violation of his permits.
His attorney has said Genssler agreed to the deal to avoid leaving taxpayers with the bill for cleanup if his firm declared bankruptcy.
The Harris County Attorney’s Office said the company accepted oil and other hazardous chemicals for recycling but did not properly store, contain or process them, allowing tens of thousands of gallons of pollutants to leak into the bayou. The EPA said arsenic, mercury and other contaminants are still on site.