Thermo Fisher has removed contamination from 13 properties and the City of Sugar Land’s ditch near Thermo Fisher’s facility at 1410 Gillingham Lane.
Remediation and restoration of the City’s ditch is complete. The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will be completing verification surveys on City property as well as other affected properties over the next few weeks. Surveys of surrounding properties continue. Motorists will likely see surveyors with hand-held detection equipment during the next month.
“The ditch has been restored to its original condition,” said City spokesman Doug Adolph. “Additional properties are being surveyed, so the public will continue to see activity, particularly in the area of Gillingham and West Airport.”
Sugar Land City Council approved an agreement on Oct. 18 with Thermo Fisher Scientific that ensures the remediation of contaminated property and the surveying and remediation of surrounding properties.
On April 20, 2015, Sugar Land was notified by the news media that a small amount of radioactive material was accidently released inside Thermo Fisher’s facility on April 14, 2015. Because the state is not currently required to notify the City of such material releases, the City of Sugar Land took proactive, deliberate measures to obtain answers from Thermo Fisher and DSHS, the environmental regulatory agency responsible for monitoring radioactive materials and remediation.
As part of those efforts, the City learned in March 2016 that very small amounts of radiation were detected in a City-owned ditch near the Thermo Fisher facility. According to DSHS, and also confirmed by the City’s independent environmental consultant, ESE Partners, there is no risk to the general public.
Because Chapter 11 of the city’s development code prohibits illicit discharges into city ditches, the city secured a remediation agreement with Thermo Fisher that holds the company to the highest standard by ensuring Thermo Fisher restores city-owned and all other affected properties to their original condition and conducts surveying and remediation of surrounding properties. Highlights of the agreement follow:
• Thermo Fisher will continue to survey affected properties to ensure no more contamination exists.
• Thermo Fisher will remove all contaminated materials on city property and any found on affected properties.
• Thermo Fisher will restore all properties to their original condition.
• Thermo Fisher will remain the legal owner of all contaminated materials.
• Contaminated materials will be disposed of at a licensed facility.
• Thermo Fisher will reimburse the city for all costs related to the settlement agreement. This includes expenses related to city staff, outside legal counsel and environmental consultant. There will be no cost to taxpayers.
• Thermo Fisher will cover all related costs associated with remediation activities until the DSHS determines all properties have been remediated. DSHS is the state regulatory agency responsible for radioactive materials.
“The safety, health and welfare of Sugar Land residents, area workers, landowners, businesses and all other constituents has and always will be the top priority for the City of Sugar Land,” said Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman.
The city is in communication with its state representatives to ensure the city is notified of future regulatory violations, which may include the possibility of future legislative action.