San Jacinto River Coalition reveals continuing dangers in Toxic Waste Pits – Meeting June 14

Michael Ruger of TexansTogether

HIGHLANDS – Rotarians at their weekly luncheon heard a preview of a public meeting to be held this Thursday, June 14th at the Methodist Church, regarding new tests that indicate poisons leaching from the Toxic Waste Site in the river continue to be a public health threat, and may have even increased from earlier levels of toxicity.

TexansTogether, and the San Jacinto River Coalition have teamed together to bring this information to local residents. They will host representatives of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, at the meeting on Thursday night, according to Sarah Davis and Jim Strouhal of the Coaliltion. The public is invited to attend, and hear the latest test results and an update on planned actions of several involved parties.

In a statement issued by the TexansTogether organization, they said:

At a press conference on May 31st at the San Jacinto Monument, the San Jacinto River Coalition and Texans Together Education Fund released an independent scientific report revealing continued toxic dioxin and furan contamination of the San Jacinto River from the San Jacinto Waste Pits‚ Superfund Site.

Dr. Stephen King, the Houston toxicologist who wrote the report, states that near the San Jacinto River Waste Pits (SJRWP) Superfund Site that wading, swimming, fishing, crabbing, and collecting oysters and clams should be banned. It is strongly recommended that the consumption of fish, crabs, oysters, and clams caught in proximity to the SJRWP among vulnerable or at-risk individuals, such as pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly, persons with impaired liver function, and among individuals with an impaired immune system be prohibited.

Dr. King took sediment and seafood samples in proximity to the SJRWP in September 2011 after completion of a 2011 temporary remediation capping the Waste Pits. Laboratory analysis show that current levels of toxic dioxins and furans are similar to levels found by governmental authorities in 1990 and 2005 indicating serious contamination remains in the San Jacinto River that flows into Galveston Bay. These toxic wastes came from the Champion/International Paper mill in Pasadena. They were dumped in the 1960‚’s at a 25 acre waste pit site (now owned by Waste Management), on the banks of the San Jacinto River, where it crosses I-10 East. Subsequently submerged, these toxic wastes have been spread for years by the current throughout the River. Sarah Davis, a resident of nearby Highlands and a San Jacinto Coalition member, said, “We deserve a clean and safe river. Waste Management and International Paper should remove all their dioxin and other contaminants from the River.”

The report and laboratory analysis was funded by a grant received by Texans Together Education Fund, a 501c3 civic engagement non-profit organization, from the Kirk Mitchell Environmental Law Fund.