Fort Worth council approves more than $500K for pollution cleanup

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Fort Worth City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to spend more than a half-million dollars to hire a consulting firm to study and begin remediating six polluted sites around the city.

The city will pay Enercon Services, Inc. $589,500 to study and design plans to clean up soil and groundwater contamination at six sites around the city.

The sites include the Brennan Avenue industrial site, Fort Worth Rifle and Pistol Club, Greenbriar Park, Victory Forest Recreation Center, Environmental Resource Center and Downtown Service Center.

The Brennan site is home to the Fort Worth Auto Pound and Brennan Service Center where the city stores impounded vehicles and industrial products. The land sits right on the banks of the Trinity River.

A FOX 4 Investigation Monday uncovered that groundwater under the Brennan site is contaminated with toxic chemicals from 100 years of pollution.

Since 2013, the city has identified high levels of benzene, arsenic and other petroleum products through regular groundwater testing.

The Brennan site housed large industrial tanks filled with petroleum products going back to the early 1900s. The site was later used as a landfill for several decades.

After two major chemical leaks in 1990 and 2005, the city spent more than $2 million over the past 25 years repairing tanks and cleaning up contaminated soil.

Mayor Betsy Price reached out to FOX 4 after watching the initial investigation Monday and said cleaning up the sites is a priority.

“It's miniscule, but we intend to do it right this time and it's [going to] be worth doing,” Price said.

Under the new contract approved Tuesday, Enercon Services, Inc. will determine whether a filter system can be installed underground where the Brennan site meets the Trinity River.

The proposed filter system is scientifically known as a “permeable reactive barrier,” but the city’s Code Compliance director compared it to a Brita water filter. The filter would theoretically clean the groundwater before it reaches the river.

Mayor Price agreed the filter was a viable option for the Brennan site.

“Brown fields, there are brown fields all over the city, and ultimately they have to be cleaned up,” Price said. “This is the most effective most cost efficient way to do it with the screening."

The city said there are four petroleum tanks still on the site today, but none are leaking.

Mayor Price and Code Compliance officials said the Brennan site is safe for workers and visitors at the moment.

"If you disturbed the dirt and got down into the groundwater, that is where you'd have the problem,” Price said. “Anyone working there, anybody venturing out, anybody on the river is perfectly safe.”

The city was not able to give an estimate of how much it would cost in the long-run to clean up all six sites or how much the Brennan site alone would cost.  

FOX 4 researched comparable sites across the country where similar filter systems were used. Costs ranged from about $1 million to $2 million for installation.