SJRC/THEA continues virtual monthly meetings

HIGHLANDS – Due to the continuing pandemic, and restrictions on size of meetings, the monthly meetings of the San Jacinto River Coalition continue to be virtual, over the internet.

Last Tuesday, THEA director Jackie Young Medcalf brought the group up-to-date with a review of the status of several Superfund sites, including the waste pits in the river. Jackie discussed the state cancer registry, and the discovery of cancer clusters throughout the area. Clusters are areas of elevated numbers of cases above the average. Clusters have been noted by the state health department in the Highlands, Channelview areas, and the fifth ward area of Houston.

No causal affect has been determined in these cases, but environmental pollution is an obvious contributor. In the fifth ward, for instance, an old creosote factory used to treat wood railroad ties is thought to be the source.

Jackie is waiting to review the 30% remedial design report for the waste pits in the river, she said. This is due to be released soon, and will reveal the plan for remediation. (As of this writing, it has actually been released by the EPA, but with thousands of pages, a review has not been accomplished.) The report will reveal what types of “treatability” will be available.

Jackie reported on types of waste, and how they are classified. She takes issue with the early report that the toxic material is only Class I, Non-hazardous Industrial Waste, which allows lower standards of remediation.

She discussed the types of cancers, for both children and adults, that have been discovered in the TDHSD surveys.

Regarding the waste in the pits in the river, she spoke about the current studies which showed that the waste pits were deeper than first assumed, and that the waste was in higher concentrations in some area. These facts indicate that the remediation will take longer and cost more than originally planned.

The PRP, or Potential Responsible Parties, have recently closed one of their websites,, and updated the other, It is not known what their current interest is.

Jackie briefly reviewed other environmental concerns, including an oil spill on Church Street in Crosby, that is polluting waterways nearby, and has no known origin.

Also, she discussed a superfund site on Jones Road in Cypress, and its current status.

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