The Mobil Mining and Minerals Company is located near Pasadena, Harris County, Texas. In April 1992, a retaining wall within the facility failed, releasing 45 million gallons of gypsum and acidic process water into Cotton Patch Bayou, and from there into the Houston Ship Channel. Approximately 7 miles of the ship channel and associated resources were affected and millions of fish were killed. Cotton Patch Bayou provides habitat for song and wading birds, terrestrial reptiles, mammals, and numerous invertebrates, such as crayfish, in addition to other intrinsic wetland values. In 1996 the Trustees reached settlement with Mobil Mining and Minerals for natural resource injuries. This settlement provided for the creation and enhancement of 17 acres of tidal wetland, and a 17 acre area of freshwater wetlands near the Houston Ship Channel.
The restoration action and monitoring at this site has been completed and is protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement. The 34 acre site is located adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel and provides an oasis of salt marsh and tidal wetlands within a heavily industrialized area. Final settlement amount was estimated at $1,600,000.
Inspectors investigating spill impact to Cotton Bayou at Mobil facility, Credit: NOAA, 1996