THEA to update community on Waste Pits at meeting on Oct. 25

HIGHLANDS – The EPA is holding its ground against further delays in cleaning up the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site. The responsible parties who seem to continuously look for ways to drag out the government-ordered clean up.

It only took a few years to fill the pits with dioxin-laden paper mill waste back in the 1960s. Nearly 60 years later, the companies found responsible for the contamination, International Paper and Waste Management, Inc., are still asking for more time to figure out how to fix the problem. A new letter from the EPA indicates the agency isn’t buying it.

The companies submitted a remediation plan for the northern waste pit earlier this summer. The EPA said it was incomplete and gave them until next month to come up with the full plan. The companies asked to push that deadline until February of next year, almost guaranteeing another delay in starting the cleanup.

Now the EPA has sent them a clear message. The agency writes that it has already allowed the companies to delay finalizing a plan for 725 days and is ordering them to submit the plan by November 8, 2022. It’s worth remembering that the Superfund law allows the EPA to charge three times the cost of the damages if the responsible parties won’t cooperate.


THEA staff has been carefully reviewing the 100,000 plus-page cleanup proposal that was submitted this summer and have a number of concerns. We will meet with our San Jacinto River Coalition and other members of the public on:

October 25 at 6:30p.m.
San Jacinto Community Center
604 Highland Woods Dr
Highlands, TX

At the meeting, THEA will update residents and other concerned citizens on the plan and get their feedback to share with the EPA.


In the meantime, THEA continues to inform the community of the risk that the Superfund Site presents until it is fully removed. Last week the THEA team was at the Highlands Jamboree, an annual celebration of the founding of Highlands.

Several people we talked to at the Jamboree didn’t know there were Superfund sites or fish consumption advisories along the San Jacinto River, once again driving home the need for ongoing communications with people impacted by toxins in and around the river.