Several Southtown residents expressed frustration with the pace of remediation and redevelopment following the EPA's presentation. One realtor and developer asked whether it wouldn't be cheaper to just clean up the entire site rather than continue with rounds of testing to target contaminated areas (Nope, says Delgado, it would be wildly expensive to wet and scrape the entire seven-and-a-half acres). The expense matters, too, since the EPA must recoup the costs from its list of eligible payors. That list isn't based on culpability, but on ownership, says Delgado, which means if they can't get the funds from the pending W.R. Grace settlement or other sources, they could stick the current landowner with the bill. That result, says Lifshutz, would "prohibit it from being developed. So my hope is that they'll do what they need to do to collect the costs from the polluter."
More than one meeting attendee coveted Tuesday's colorful EPA Powerpoint presentation, which used old aerial maps and other info to create a grid showing the areas of Big Tex most likely to contain significant levels of asbestos contamination. Delgado says it will be available on a website he plans to have finished by Monday morning. The likely address: epaosc.net/bigtex.
We're also awaiting the promised Government Accountability Office's assessment of W.R Grace asbestos/vermiculite sites, including Big Tex, which the agency estimates will be completed this spring. The GAO released a report in October titled, "EPA May Need to Reassess Sites Receiving Asbestos-Contaminated Ore from Libby, Montana, and Should Improve It's Public Notification Process" -- available at gao.gov and our nominee for 2007 Most Self-Explanatory Title of the Year.