Oil refinery waste suspected in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Oil refinery waste suspected in Craig

CDPHE: Texaco potential source of soil, water contamination

Joe Moylan

The Texaco oil refinery was a fixture in Craig from 1926 to 1947. Waste from the facility has been linked to soil and groundwater contamination on the west side of Craig, according to a report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Some of Craig's hotels, businesses and residences may be sitting atop contaminated soils and ground water reserves from an oil refinery abandoned more than 65 years ago.

City of Craig and Moffat County employees were recently made aware of the potential soil and groundwater contamination on the west side of Craig by representatives of the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Among some of the suspected soil contaminants in unknown volumes are sludge, oily waste, solvents, pesticides, organic and inorganic chemicals, acids, bases, and heavy metals, according to a July 16 Department of Public Health and Environment report.

Elevated levels of arsenic, lead, chromium and zinc — in volumes exceeding Colorado Basic Standards for Groundwater — also are suspected in some of Craig's surface and shallow groundwater reserves.

The alleged contamination is located near the intersections of West Third Street and Colorado Highway 13, between West Third and Clay streets, where Beacon, N.J.-based Texaco, Inc. operated an oil refinery from 1926 to 1947.

During that time, Texaco reportedly refined 1,000 barrels of crude oil per day into gasoline products.

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In addition to a refinery, Texaco also operated an above ground storage facility located on the west side of Colorado Highway 13, where Rocky Mountain Inn, the Holiday Inn of Craig and Hampton Inn & Suites currently sit.

The old refinery, located across the highway from the storage tank farm, now houses Trapper Fitness Center, Best Western Deer Park Inn and Suites, Fastenal Company and Severson Supply & Rental Co.

The Department of Public Health and Environment report does not cite any recent scientific studies.

Instead, the report references two studies conducted on the potential contamination site, one done by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1984 and another conducted around 2000 by Bob Peterson, of CDPHE's solid waste unit in Grand Junction.

The 1984 EPA study was prompted when, during the construction of a road to the Craig sewage treatment plant, city employees encountered black, oily and odorous soils two feet below the surface throughout the majority of Texaco's old refinery site.

At the time, the EPA reported 15 shallow water wells with an average depth of 38 feet were located within a mile of the refinery site.

In addition, EPA officials received reports of oil oozing out of the ground from residents of Lamplighter Estates Mobile Park, 2210 W. Third St.

Peterson returned more than 15 years later to conduct groundwater monitoring and reported contaminants exceeded Colorado Basic Standards for Groundwater.

But, no action was taken.

The lack of action prompted council members to ask Tuesday why a resolution hadn't been reached long ago.

"The city council met (Tuesday night) and discussed the former Texaco refinery site summary you provided to me," Craig City Manager Jim Ferree wrote in an email to CDPHE officials.

"There is one question. It appears from your report that there have been several site visits over the years. The city council is wondering, why now?"

CDPHE officials said they were unaware the site existed until recently.

Additional discussions about the former Texaco refinery site are expected to take place by city and county officials the next several weeks, but because the site is located within Craig city limits, Moffat County officials said they believe city council members should take the lead.

In the meantime, the report states CDPHE officials have contacted representatives from Chevron-Texaco to gauge their interest in participating in the cleanup effort at their legacy site.

If those efforts are unsuccessful, the report states CDPHE would assist city and/or county officials with acquiring funds through the EPA Brownsfield program for investigation and remediation operations.

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In other action …

During its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Craig City Council:

• Approved, 4-0, July 10 meeting minutes.

• Approved, 4-0, the renewal of a retail liquor store license for Eastside Liquor, 539 E. Victory Way.

• Postponed renewing a 3.2-percent retail beer license for Pizza Hut, 1070 W. Victory Way, due to the lack of a business representative present.

• Postponed renewing a 3.2-percent retail beer license for Walmart, 2000 W. Victory Way, due to the lack of a business representative present.

• Approved, 4-0, a temporary hotel and restaurant liquor license for Double Barrel Steakhouse, LLC, 351 Ranney St. The city council will host a hearing Aug. 28 to determine if the business will receive a regular license.

• Approved, 4-0, a $49,868.50 bid from Anson Excavating for curb, gutter and concrete improvements.

• Heard a monthly financial report on behalf of city finance director Bruce Nelson, who was absent.

— Councilors Ray Beck, Gene Bilodeau and Byron Willems were absent from the meeting.