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HEALTH CONSULTATION

MANY DIVERSIFIED INTERESTS, INCORPORATED
HOUSTON, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS


BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF ISSUES

Site History
The Many Diversified Interests, Inc. (MDI) site is an inactive facility located at 3617 Baer Street in the City of Houston, Harris County, Texas. The MDI site operated as a steel casting facility from 1926 until 1992 under the company names Texas Electric Steel Casting Company (TESCO) and San Jacinto Foundry (SJF). During the mid 1980's, a part of the site was leased to Can-Am Resources Group to operate a spent catalyst recycling operation. Can-Am reportedly purchased between 2000 and 4000 drums of spent catalyst material from refineries and chemical plants along the Houston Ship Channel and stored the drums at the MDI site. By 1988, the spent catalyst recycling operations ceased and the stored drums were abandoned on-site.

On June 26, 1990, the Texas Water Commission conducted a complaint investigation at the MDI facility. During the inspection, the investigator documented the presence of approximately 4,000 drums at the site, most of them being severely corroded and spilling their contents onto the ground surface. On May 6, 1994, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) cited several violations concerning the storage of approximately 2,000 drums of waste material. Eight samples of the spilled drum contents were collected and the results indicated elevated levels of arsenic, nickel, lead, and molybdenum (Table 1).

Demolition of on-site buildings and structures was reported in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) preliminary site assessment conducted November 2, 1995. Buildings remaining at the site include a partially demolished brick office building with an attached brick laboratory building, and a building used previously for the storage of low level radioactive waste. Currently there are no radioactive sources on site.

The Texas Department of Health (TDH) conducted a site visit in July of 1996. Dark colored contaminated soils and several thousand drums of spent catalyst waste were observed on-site. Numerous waste piles consisting of foundry sand, demolition debris, wood, concrete, brick, slag, ash, and scrap metal were observed. A white fibrous material (possibly asbestos), a PCB-labeled transformer and an on-site pond containing waste oil also were on-site. MDI occupies about 35 acres surrounded by an eight foot fence, capped with barbed wire. The surrounding residences are low-income, small wooden frame homes. Surface water runoff onto the adjacent street was noted from the north drum area. Children were observed playing in the yards and street near the site. Bruce Elementary School is directly across the street from the site.

Sample Collection
In January of 1996, the EPA screened 13 residential property soil samples, 12 background samples, and two soil samples from Bruce Elementary School for inorganic contaminants. The initial screening results indicated that lead, cadmium, iron, molybdenum, copper, and manganese concentrations were at least three times greater than background levels of contaminants taken from a distant residential area.

A subset of these samples was submitted for laboratory analyses of inorganic and organic contaminants. The soil samples analyzed for inorganic contaminants include five residential samples, two samples from Bruce Elementary School, five on-site samples, and two samples from a drainage area leading away from the site. Three residential background samples were analyzed for both organic and inorganic contaminants (Table 2). Six sediment samples taken from Buffalo Bayou, both upstream and downstream of the MDI outfall, were analyzed for inorganic contaminants (Table 3). These samples are the basis of this health consultation.

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