Big Tex update

"There were no real screaming-high levels," said EPA On-Scene Coordinator Eric Delgado of the results from February's Big Tex sampling, but they did confirm the 2006 preliminary tests that showed worrisomely high levels of amphibole-asbestos contamination on the Southtown site, which processed tremolite-asbestos-laden vermiculite from Libby, Montana, for almost three decades.

EPA used the most recent results, based on approximately 300 soil samples, to identify 11 areas for activity-based sampling (read: raking), which they're wrapping up today. The material collected, including filters in which amphibole asbestos is clearly visible, will be sent off for evaluation, with results expected in four to six weeks. That set of data gets plugged into the EPA's risk-assessment matrix, and out comes a plan for site remediation, although Delgado said he suspects they'll be digging out and replacing the dirt in a 15-20-foot radius around the expansion facility, where the vermiculite was heated until it popped. Delgado said they also found amphibole-asbestos residue around the rail spurs used to deliver vermiculite to the facility along the banks of the San Antonio River, although they won't know what the exposure risk in that area is, either, until the get those test results.