Polluted soil is being removed from this Fort Worth park, a decade after it was discovered

Polluted soil is being removed from this Fort Worth park, a decade after it was discovered

Source: http://www.star-telegram.com, December 4, 2017
By: Sandra Baker

Soil containing arsenic and another known cancer-causing chemical in Greenbriar Park is being removed more than a decade after the contamination was discovered.

Crews are getting two sites in the south Fort Worth park ready for the removal of about 6,000 cubic yards of dirt that contain low levels of arsenic and a hydrocarbon used as a base for coatings and paint, in roofing and paving, and as a binder in asphalt products.

Although a 2005 report by environmental consultants concluded the “risk to human health is minimal and no further action should be necessary,” the city has changed course and will now remove the soil.

The remediation is being triggered by a Parks Department expansion of its service center on James Avenue, on the park’s west side. The expansion will take in about 4.5-acres of the park.

“It became an important project, but it wasn’t necessarily urgent,” said Cody Whittenburg, Fort Worth’s environmental manager. “We’re now close to getting rid of it.”

Greenbriar Park, a 49-acre park about four miles south of downtown, will not be closed while the work is being done.

But those who fish at the lake in the park will not have access to the east side of the water. That’s one area where the chemicals are in the soil. The other site is along the park’s north boundary, where park-goers can play Frisbee golf.

“I’m glad that it’s happening,” said Clarissa Calderon, president of the 525-home North Greenbriar Neighborhood Association. “It’s good news for us.”

The neighborhood association regularly partners with the Greenbriar Recreation Center to host events, including a summer fishing competition and during the city’s annual Cowtown Cleanup, she said.

In September, the City Council approved a $341,989 contract with Eagle Remediation and Demolition in Springtown to do the work.

The amount of dirt being removed is enough to fill more than 300 dump trucks. Crews will dig about 12 inches to reach and remove the contamination. The areas will be filled with clean dirt and new sod.

The remediation project is expected to take three to four weeks to complete, Whittenburg said. Because of the low levels of chemicals, the dirt will go to the city’s landfill on Salt Road, about seven miles east of the park off of Interstate 20, he said.

According to a November report from Dallas-based Enercon Services Inc., the hydrocarbon “is believed to be a result of used asphalt and other debris” placed there when the park land was a part of the adjacent Fort Worth Quartermaster Depot. The depot was built in early 1940s as a supply center for the Army in World War II. Its operations ceased in the mid-1960s.

The city conducted an environmental assessment in 2005 after the Star-Telegram looked into documents that showed more than a dozen toxic pollutants had spread across the 278-acre Fort Worth Federal Center. Some of those pollutants had migrated to the park, the Star-Telegram review found.

Back then, consultants found the park contamination was a mix of chemicals and construction debris buried there.

The City Council in May approved issuing $10 million in tax notes for the Parks Department project, which comes because of the expansion of Trail Drive, between University Drive and Lancaster Avenue. An older service center on Crestline Road, near Trail Drive, was recently demolished as part of that project.

The service center will be rebuilt at the James Avenue Service Center. In May, voters will be asked to approve $9 million for the James Avenue Service Center expansion as part of the 2018 bond program. That will involve removing a couple of World War II army barracks.

The General Services Administration began donating land to the city in 1973 for Greenbriar Park. Texas Parks & Wildlife stocks the 3-acre urban lake with rainbow trout throughout the year.

City officials plan to remove soil from two locations in Greenbriar Park in south Fort Worth that have slightly elevated levels of chemicals.

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