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EPA says remedial work can commence on Waste Pits southern empoundment

The Southern Impoundment area will start logistical work this year, and actual remediation construction will take place in 2022, according to the Environmental Protection Agency

Waste Pits take a major step forward in Superfund process

By Jackie Medcalf

On September 2nd, the EPA finalized the Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) for the clean-up of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site’s southern impoundment.

This is a major step towards physically addressing the contamination south of Interstate 10.

The order allows the clean-up to move into the Remedial Action phase of the superfund process, which begins with creating work plans, procuring materials, and securing contractors. These steps are anticipated to take place over the next year, setting the groundwork for construction to start in the fall of 2022.

The EPA order names International Paper as the respondent for the southern impoundment, despite other entities’ historical involvement with the site. In International Paper’s intent to comply, they dispute the EPA’s failure to include additional respondents in the cleanup of the southern impoundment.

The UAO outlines an estimated construction cost of $9,932,000.00 with financial assurance from International Paper and grants robust authority to the EPA, including non-compliance penalties up to $59,017.00 per day. This order is essential to ensuring that the southern impoundment is cleaned up per EPA standards and provides EPA the authority to ensure the burden doesn’t fall on taxpayers, the local environment, or the local communities.

At THEA, we are pleased to see the EPA issue this order to move the Superfund Site towards Waste Pits work to commence, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 remediation. However, we will watch carefully for EPA to hold polluters accountable and utilize the authority granted in the UAO and by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

As you know well, the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site has two main pits – the northern impoundment and the southern impoundment. The clean-up of the southern impoundment is being handled separately from the northern impoundment, yet they are one Superfund Site. Extensive sampling was completed recently at the northern impoundment as part of the Remedial Design. The final design for the northern impoundment is expected in February of 2022.

For more information and a copy of the UAO, visit https://www.epa.gov/tx/sjrwp.