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Congressmen say SanJac River filled with dioxins – Future Superfund Site?

HIGHLANDS— Congressman Gene Green (D) and Congressman Ted Poe (R) have called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up a long-forgotten industrial waste site that has poisoned the San Jacinto River for decades.
The contaminated area of the river east of Houston, which serves as a food source and recreation area, sends dioxin-laced sediment all the way to Galveston Bay.
“This mess is threatening the health of Texans and it’s not going to go away by itself,” Green said. “If we don’t take responsibility for cleaning it now, the problem will only get worse.”
Green and Poe both represent areas affected by the contamination.

“The San Jacinto River area has long been a recreational site for families in eastern Harris County,” said Poe. “The pollution caused by the waste site threatens the quality of life and the health of the folks that live along the river and we can not continue to ignore the seriousness of this situation.”
In a letter dated March 23, they asked the EPA to designate the zone a Superfund site “for the health and safety of our constituents.”
The Superfund program was enacted allows the EPA to require responsible parties to clean up contaminated sites. If the parties can not be located or are unable to clean the sites, the EPA may use money from the Superfund Trust Fund to clean up the contaminated areas.
Dioxin levels in the San Jacinto River had been mysteriously high for years in spite of measures designed to reduce pollution from nearby industry. In 2005, scientists discovered that an industrial waste pit operated in the area until about thirty years ago. Over time, the pit became submerged in the river, and the company that operated the pit went out of business.
Dioxin is an organic compound that can cause cancer and other health problems. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to its effects.