Concerns raised about new Construction near Waste Pits

Construction activity along River Road includes piles about to be driven into the water to support a new set of berths for barges. To the left is Meadowbrook Park, and to the right the old Riverside Inn.
Construction activity along River Road includes piles about to be driven into the water to support a new set of berths for barges. To the left is Meadowbrook Park, and to the right the old Riverside Inn.

CHANNELVIEW – Residents of the area near the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site have become concerned with evidence of new construction that might threaten the neighborhood along River Road, and the waste pits themselves.

The investigation is being headed by Carolyn Stone, who lives in Channelview not far from I-10 and the Waste Pits, and is the director of an environmental action group know as C.H.I.P., or Channelview Health & Improvement Coalition. The group is monitoring progress at the Waste Pits, as well as water and air quality in the Channelview area.

Stone says in a letter widely distributed to government bodies and other interested persons, that the construction that can be observed along river road and on the east bank of the river is proceeding without any evidence of permits from the County engineering Department or the Corps of Engineers, each of which has jurisdiction of this type.

Stone says that she learned that a company known as TimTom Land Holdings LLC is building the barge facility, and plans a restaurant/bar adjacent. She says in her letter, “These two projects lay in a very vulnerable and low land area which is the first area to flood.”

She said the Pct. 2 plan for the area is to develop San Jacinto River Estates, the neighborhood adjacent to these projects, as a flood mitigation zone and park. It is currently under a “buyout” by HC Flood Control.

On the map above, orange highlights show the San Jacinto River Estates, proposed barge facility at left, old Riverside Inn at center, Waste Pits Superfund site at center, and the marine fueling station work and storage tanks at right.

Stone points out in her letter that the new barge site is located between the UP Railroad trestle to the north, and the I-10 highway bridge to the south. She suggests that under flood conditions, which are common with heavy storms or hurricanes, that both pathways are susceptible to damage, as has been seen last year with the closing of the I-10 bridge twice. She says that more barges, either from these projects or others, can only mean more chances for damage from break-away barges and ships.

She says that the TimTom Land company has applied for a liquor license from the state for a bar and restaurant, but she points out that the Riverside Inn is now closed due to heavy damage from previous devastating floods.

Stone points out that the area known as SJRE (San Jacinto River Estates) has numerous pipelines running through it, and they are subject to damage in flood conditions. In fact, in 1994 a flood ruptured pipelines under the river, and the resulting fires and flood waters took days to control, at the expense of the environment.

In her letter, Stone continues, “Since the SJRE subdivision is to be developed by Harris County as a flood mitigation zone and park and has suffered many devastating flood events, the remaining residents have been informed they cannot receive any permits for construction or repairs. The barge facility construction and the restaurant/bar repair and construction has thus far taken place without permits or oversight by Harris County or the US Army Corps of Engineers. Harris County and Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s Pct. 2 representatives were unaware of these developments until informed by our community members. On 01/15/21, HC Permits Lead Enforcement Coordinator Debjani Chakravarty issued TimTom Landings LLC a notice to stop construction immediately and a notice of forthcoming inspections. Despite the 1/15/21 notice and follow up stop construction notices construction has continued to present. A review of the US Army Corps of Engineers public notice page does not reflect TimTom Land Holdings or any other entity that has applied for a permit for this construction.”

“The total disregard for all rules, regulations, laws and notices from Harris County to stop construction by the individuals involved in the barge facility construction and the restaurant/bar repair and construction raises additional concerns for our community members as to their future operation of the facilities since the individuals have already proven they do not feel they are subject to any rule, regulation or law.”

Stone says that TimTom Land also purchased the ZXP storage tanks on the eastern banks of the San Jacinto River a short distance from the San Jacinto Waste Pits Superfund Site and I-10 East SJ Bridge, for the purposes of creating a marine industry fueling station.

“This will conceivably increase the marine industry traffic in the area and bring fueling transmission lines and equipment into what is known to be the most hydraulically violent area of the San Jacinto River during a flooding event imposing the additional dangers of spills and explosions to the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, the I-10 East SJ Bridge and our communities. This area is also soon to be subject to a considerable amount of construction activity related to the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site remediation, the new I-10 East SJ Bridge construction and I-10 East Improvement project, adding into this mix a marine fueling station and additional marine traffic would, logically, seem to be a very dangerous and unnecessary component.”

Stone is opposed to all of this construction, and has asked the government entities to help stop the work.