More than 20 years since a Bryan chemical plant closed, more than $1.1 million dollars is waiting to be spent on restoring land and water poisoned by arsenic and other products.
Locally known as the Atochem site, the current plant owner, Arkema, entered a consent agreement in federal court with the Interior Department and the state of Texas.
The $1.1 million is now controlled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A spokeswoman says they have started drafting a restoration plan and associated environmental compliance document. No timeline has been set for a public review.
The impacted area includes Finfeather Lake, whose shoreline borders the Arkema plant, and the municipal lake that part’s of the Bryan municipal golf course.
A spokeswoman with the Fish and Wildlife Service office in Albuquerque New Mexico says the workload of a trustee council on this project has had its attention on recent oil spills, including one last March near Galveston. Once plans are developed, it will go through a public comment period prior to any decision by the trustee council.
Bryan city officials were not aware of the court settlement or the money until contacted by WTAW News. City secretary Mary Lynne Stratta said on WTAW’s The Infomaniacs they received a settlement several years ago to address public backlash over the contamination.
Mayor Jason Bienski says they’ve been in contact with Congressman Bill Flores office asking if federal grants were available to resume dredging the lakes, which had the nickname of “Lake Arsenic”.
Deputy City Manager Hugh Walker says water at the municipal lake is safe and the lake bottom still had a few hotspots from chemical contamination when the plant was in operation between 1944 and 1993.