Energy & Environment

Housing Development At Houston Superfund Site Moving Forward

The EPA is putting new resources into encouraging redevelopment of Superfund sites across the U.S.

An EPA image of the “Many Diversified Interests” Superfund site in Houston’s 5th Ward.

A once-contaminated Houston “Superfund” site could soon be home to a new housing complex, a plan that’s part of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s push to speed up Superfund cleanups across the U.S.

The now-vacant lot in Houston’s 5th Ward was once an industrial facility that contaminated the soil and groundwater. Houston developer Frank Liu paid to clean up the site, and he’s had years-long, but stalled, plans to build housing there. Now, the plan is moving forward, said Anne Idsal, the EPA’s regional administrator.

“We are hopeful to see construction begin at some point this spring,” she said. Liu was slightly less optimistic, telling News 88-7 that he’s hopeful for sometime this year.

The EPA has added the site to a national list of Superfund sites that will get the agency’s help finding business and redevelopment opportunities. Other Texas sites could make the list down the road.

Last year, local activists called for further environmental testing at the Houston lot, saying they’re concerned that lead contamination still lingers. But Idsal said she’s confident enough in the cleanup that she would feel safe living there.

“We have double and triple checked through soil samplings and water samplings that the site is clean,” she said. “We will continue to do groundwater monitoring.”

Houston offers funding for developments that have affordable housing, and the city said it has been in talks with Liu about a deal for his project. Still, nothing has been solidified, so it’s not clear what kind of housing the new complex will bring.

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Travis Bubenik

Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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