San Jacinto River Waste Pit containment to begin Jan. 5

HIGHLANDS—Efforts to contain hazardous materials leaking into the San Jacinto River from waste pits could start in as soon as Jan. 5, says the Environmental Protection Agency.
Valmichael Leos, a project manager with the EPA Region 6 office said International Paper and McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corporation, (the PRP or Primary Responsible Parties) have begun the site management work, which includes clearing away brush, installing a decontaminate line and setting up a trailer to serve as an on-site office adjacent to the waste pits.
Construction of the actual containment berm is scheduled to begin Jan. 5.

Status reports are available online at
The berm, Leos said, would be a barrier designed to temporarily contain the contaminants until a permanent solution can be found. The EPA was successful in getting a barrier comprised of clean fill (earthen material, sand, rock and gravel) that can withstand a 100-year flood event.
Leos said that their primary goal is to “stabilize the source and keep it from going into the river.” He added that he suspected the PRP’s reluctance has to do with the expense of the project. He estimated the cost for the containment the EPA is asking for would be in the $7 million-range. A cost the PRP would have to pay from their own pockets.
Once the construction begins, completion is expected between six and nine months depending on weather conditions.
Located in along the western bank of the San Jacinto River just north of I-10, dangerous waste contaminated with a hazardous substance commonly known as dioxin, lies partially submerged in waters from the 1960s when it was dumped there by a paper mill company.
The ingestion of dioxin is known to cause cancer, skin conditions, delay physical and neurological development and is known to have long-terms effects on the immune and reproductive systems.