No toxic chemicals found at Portland airport » Corpus Christi Caller-Times

— Environmental investigators found no evidence of buried drums of the dangerous herbicide Agent Orange or the pesticide DDT at an airport near Portland, according to a report released late Tuesday.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigated the site after Kim Hunt reported that her family members buried the toxic crop-dusting chemicals decades ago on a bluff beside Nueces Bay.

According to the 40-page investigation report, tests on soil samples showed no chemicals. A sample from a nearby agricultural field, taken for comparison purposes, detected trace amounts of DDT, but in a concentration more than 600 times less than what is considered dangerous for human exposure. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official concurred with the report.

Hunt could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

Investigators talked to other Hunt family members who own airport property and are associated with Hunt Flying Services, which flew crop dusters from the airport as early as the 1950s. Those family members told investigators they had no knowledge of drums being buried at the site, according to the report. The family members could not be reached for comment.

After her initial complaint, Kim Hunt said she kept quiet about it for years but was compelled to speak out because development in the area is increasing. She said she worried chemicals had seeped into the bay.

The commission received the complaint March 16. When investigators visited the airport March 24, Kim Hunt told them the buried drums were empty and contained only residual amounts of the chemicals, the report stated.

The airport encompasses about 300 acres.

Kim Hunt’s father-in-law, William E. Hunt, established the airport after buying the land about a mile west of Portland in 1939. The air strip rarely is used now, she said.

Commission spokesman Terry Clawson said property owners must pay for cleanup in cases where chemicals are found, but state and federal resources are available if they can’t afford it.

Agent Orange, a mixture of two herbicidal chemicals, was used by the U.S. military in Vietnam to kill crops and destroy foliage used by enemies for cover. But it also was used domestically in agriculture.

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