TCEQ: City’s got more work on 503 site

Published 7:05 pm Friday, July 13, 2018

By Ken Stickney

Port Arthur’s efforts to remediate environmental problems at Kansas City Southern Engine 503’s site on Gulfway Drive are not over.

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A spokesman for Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said in a short, issued statement Friday that the city’s documentation submitted in connection with a recent clean-up effort at Bryan Park, where KCS 503 is displayed, “is not sufficient to demonstrate that all impacted areas in Bryan Park have been remediated to background or pre-spill conditions.”

City officials had not been notified Friday afternoon — TCEQ spokesman Andrew Keese in Austin was responding to a Port Arthur News inquiry about the site — but they would be, he said.

“This incident has been referred to the TCEQ’s Remediation Division for further oversight,” Keese said.

The city’s KCS 503-related woes began last September following Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey. Back then, neighbors were concerned that asbestos and oil leaks from the locomotive and tender, displayed at the park, might seep into the neighborhood during the flooding.

TCEQ mandated that Port Arthur address the issue. That’s proving to be easier mandated than done.

The city missed two deadlines for remediation — one on March 6, the next on April 20 — but made a third deadline May 11. To address the oil leak, the city had to move the locomotive, displayed at Bryan Park for some 60 years, about 100 feet, a relocation that required construction of new track and heavy lifting by special equipment.

A company dug up ground where the oil leak was said to have occurred and sent samples for review.

“Bottom line, we did remediation,” said assistant city attorney Gaylyn Cooper. He said the local TCEQ office handled the oversight and the city has been awaiting a TCEQ response from Austin.

Keese said Friday that he was short on specifics about the Bryan Park site, but that the case has been handed over to TCEQ’s remediation experts in Austin. He was not sure what the next step would be.

Asked directly if the soil at Bryan Park posed any danger to people, he said he could not give a definite response. Rather, he said it was possible the problems rest deeper in the soil than the surface because the locomotive and tender had been there so long.

He said Port Arthur would now respond to the state office rather than the regional office.

What steps the Austin office will take was not certain, he added, because the remediation office had “just been handed the assignment.”


“It will have to be cleaned up,” he said of problems at Bryan Park. “That’s their job.”

Ultimately, though, the responsibility for the clean up rests with Port Arthur, Keese said.