Where the Chemical Weapons Were Stored, Just Off Beltway 8

Included in ProPublica’s effort to identify and map every abandoned munitions facility in the U.S. — especially those that might still harbor toxic waste, residue from chemical weapons, or explosives: Houston’s own San Antonio Ordnance Depot, the original boundaries of which straddle Jacintoport Blvd., just east of Beltway 8 and immediately north of the Houston Ship Channel.

The 4,850-acre former depot and ordnance demolition facility was sold to the Ship Channel’s governing authority in 1964. It counts as one of 62 current or former military installations in Texas still containing hazardous waste, but according to Department of Defense documents is not scheduled to be cleaned up entirely until 2084.

Photos of San Jacinto Ordnance Depot bunkers: arch-ive.org

Along the Ship Channel

3 Comment

  • “… but according to Department of Defense documents is not scheduled to be cleaned up entirely until 2084.”

    Why so long? It seems to me that even a small portion of the latest $640 billion defense budget (including the $54 billion increase for 2018) should quite easily handle this a lot sooner. I guess public safety still isn’t a big priority.

  • Geez, I usually like Propublica, but this one pegs the needle on sensationalism. There are two suspected “contaminated areas”, only one of which is a concern in my mind. It’s right on Carpenter’s Bayou off of Sheldon Road, on privately owned land. The only known Burn Pit, and one other contaminated area, are either gone or buried, because they’re underneath Stolthaven or Enterprise tanks (I don’t know who owns those at the end of the rail spur). There were two suspected burn pits/disposal areas (OB/OD #1 and OB/OD #2), but there was no proof they were ever used. One of those is under dredge pits north of San Jac, and the other under a warehouse. You can see all this on the maps the Army produced for the site when they did the assessments.
    The site was cleared for sale to the public back in the 60’s, though of course that probably just meant they made sure there weren’t any bombs left in the bunkers. There are rumors of a missing phosgene bomb and a 500-lbs bomb, but no proof.
    The only thing I’d be concerned with are stories that the Army’s procedures for handling leaking chemical munitions on a train was to “temporarily” bury them by the side of the track wherever they were, and come back to get them later. I can imagine the military completely forgetting to do that. But that could have affected just about any railroad anywhere.

  • Only $7 million to clean it up and the Feds won’t finish until 2084? They already turned the land over to the Ship Channel people…5000 acres just sitting idle for 67 more years? Why?