Local groups and EPA grapple with toxic concerns from Superfund Sites

Mayor Stephen DonCarlos told of the impact of the SJRWP on the City Of Baytown and the importance of cleaning up the air quality and water quality in Burnet Bay and Scott Bay to Baytown and beyond.

NORTHEAST HARRIS COUNTY – A series of meetings concerning environmental contaminants and toxic substances this week have pointed to some little known facts about this area and raised questions concerning the origins of making chemical waste pits near the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston.

Actions and recommendations by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prompted local groups to become active and reach out to inform the public about what they need to do, what dangers exist and where developments are at this time.


Previously, the EPA had tasked independent investigators named by potentially responsible parties (companies that may have polluted something) to make recommendations for what to do with the San Jacinto River Waste Pits (SJRWP.) The recommendations by the investigators for the potentially Responsible Parties did not take into account tidal surges ( there have been three 500 year level floods since the 1990s ) and other factors so the EPA has rejected those findings.

Currently, the EPA is tasking the Army Corps of Engineers and others to study the SJRWP and make a recommendation on their findings. The EPA had expected to reach a conclusion about what to do about the SJRWP in September 2014 but that is delayed for more findings that take into account more of the questions raised by the EPA. They now expect to issue a report in mid 2015.

At a Press Conference at the SJRWP (waste pits) on Friday, Aug. 1, Jacquelyn Young of Texans Together, an environmental outreach specialist, introduced several significant activists in the fight to clean up the SJRWP. Dr. Jack Christie, Houston City Council Member At-large-5 was on hand to describe how the SJRWP impacts the City of Houston overall. Members of the San Jacinto River Coalition were especially plentiful. Lois Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, the organizer of the Love Canal, Niagra Falls, New York neighborhoods into a national coalition that led to the establishment of U.S. EPA Superfund Sites, gave a rousing address concerning attempts to avoid the expense of clean up by potentially responsible parties, how companies and governmental agencies had attempted the expense of cleaning up other sites.

At Lee College on Saturday the Texans Together and San Jacinto River Coalition hosted a Community Workshop featuring Lois Gibbs, an Opening Address by Baytown Mayor Stephen H. DonCarlos and a powerpoint presentation by Jacquelyn Young that overviewed the SJRWP. This was followed by a question and answer session and organizing efforts afterward.