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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, keepitcapped.org, and updated the other, sanjacintofacts.com. 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.

Community Impact funding puts the volunteers in the driver’s seat. They are responsible for reviewing the funding requests, determining how and if they align with United Way’s goals and are able to make an impact in the community. This thorough review of funds invested using the community impact model is a good choice for donors who do not have the time or inclination to vet out where their donations can make the biggest difference. The all-volunteer community impact committee reviews the requests and make the funding recommendations to the Board of Directors who have the final decision on funding.

In February, the Board of Directors adopted Impact 2025, the strategic plan with a five-year vision that includes elements that will strengthen the capacity of UWGBACC and agencies, continue community impact efforts, build community engagement and work to enhance collective impact, which will better align funding goals with major systems’ goals such as health and education. “This will be a year of change that will create a stronger United Way and benefit our community,” said Nick Woolery, assistant manager, City of Baytown and president of UWGBACC’s Board of Directors. “Staff and volunteers will be taking the next few months to focus on building the plan of action that will include measureable goals which will ultimately enhance the overall quality of health of our community.”

July begins the new campaign year. This year will be unlike any other because of COVID. Because of the social distancing required for safety, most, if not all workplace campaigns will be held virtually. The community’s support will be needed more now than ever before. If you would like to support the mission of United Way, you are invited to register at https:// volunteer.unitedwaygbacc.org/ and get involved today.