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Sikes Disposal Pit go Sikes Disposal Pits & 9 French Limited The French Limited Co., way out on Highway 90 in northeast Harris County, used the 185-acre Sikes Disposal Pits property to dump petroleum-based and chemical wastes in unlined sand pits from the early 1960s to 1967. Then the company purchased another 22.5-acre site, known as French Limited, to operate a commercial waste-disposal site. For two years, the company burned waste in an open pit and deposited about 300,000 cubic yards more in a lagoon. Area residents complained about the smell of unfiltered, burning waste to the Texas Water Pollution Control Board, and the bureaucracy sprang into action. In 1967, the Texas Water Development Board required French Limited to apply for a waste-control permit. After three years of negotiations, French Limited was granted a permit with special provisions, which it failed to meet. After extensive public hearings, the permit was canceled in 1971. Two years later, the state sued French Limited for noncompliance. For its troubles, the court deeded the state the disposal site in the settlement. Now both Sikes Disposal Pits and French Limited have been cleaned up to the extent that they are no longer considered a danger to human health. In fact, a charming marina called Love’s Marina thrives on the Sikes site. Visitors are welcomed by a man named Big John, who likes pretty girls, and a flock of resident ducks with no more than the standard number of appendages. There is something unnerving about a fishing hole with an incinerator just over the ridge, but there is something beautiful about it, too. You really must see for yourself. Highlands Acid Pit & 11 Patrick Bayou Our last sites are two that, unfortunately, you can’t quite see for yourself. Patrick Bayou and Highlands Acid Pit are both inaccessible to tourists, but together they represent the past and future of Superfund in Harris County. The Highlands Acid Pit, named for its proximity to Highlands 15 miles east of Houston on I-10, is a 6-acre peninsula bordered on three sides by the San Jacinto River. Industrial waste sludges, including hydrochloric acid, were dumped there during the ’50s, and the site flooded in 1961, possibly causing a fish kill in Clear Lake. So when time came for a list of places in Texas to clean up, Highlands Acid Pit made the list. Its top 8 feet were excavated and whisked away, backfilled and graded, seeded and fenced. So even if you could visit, you would see the Superfund ideal: a green, grassy glade of nothing, with the toxics buried and hidden. But Superfund does not exist only to truck away the sins of Harris County’s unenlightened industrial past. Patrick Bayou is a Superfund site so new that almost no information is available about it. Nestled in a small inlet of the Houston Ship Channel off Highway 224 is a 3-mile tidal bayou bounded entirely by petrochemical facilities belonging to Occidental Chemical Corp., Royal Dutch Shell, and Lubrizol Corp. Previous investigations have confirmed the presence of toxic chemicals, but published reports don’t say how much, nor have the toxins’ origins been determined. The health and environmental consequences of this toxic soup has yet to be determined. Naturally, a course of action is also yet forthcoming. But never fear. The EPA is on the case. And it should have some of this information soon; after all, the site joined the Superfund National Priorities List in 2002. Emily DePrang is a writer from Pearland, Texas. 1 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 19, 2007