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Waste Pits work to begin Nov. 9

HIGHLANDS – Members of the San Jacinto River Coalition, and others of the public met last Tuesday night at the San Jacinto/Highlands Community Center to hear an update on Waste Pits remediation plans from THEA director Jackie Medcalf.

Jackie reported that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) had informed the Responsible Parties that they would not receive any more extensions or delays, and work on the Southern Impoundment must start by November 9th.

This work will require excavation of designated areas in the industrial area south of I-10, to a depth of 10 feet or until tests show toxicity levels below 240ppt. This will require removing about 25,000 cubic yards of material, she said, which will be transported off-site in trucks. This work may take as much as a year.

In the Northern Impoundment, EPA has ordered the Responsible Parties to submit the Final Design by November 8, especially the Northwest Corner where test borings have shown high levels of toxic material to depths below 25 feet.

The 90% submission did not address a solution for this area. (See map enclosed). The 90% Final Design document was a huge volume, amounting to over 100,000 pages including much technical information. THEA (Texas Health and Environmental Alliance) has been reviewing this report and making suggestions for the final document.

Among the comments that will be discussed with EPA when they meet the Citizens Advisory Committee in Houston on November 3rd:

— Jurisdiction question on who issues permits for work in river, US Corps of Engineers and which office;

— Where will waste go when removed and transported;

— Will a manifest for each truckload be maintained, and by whom;

— Will a decontamination zone exist, for trucks, equipment and personnel before they leave the site?

Jackie said that where the toxic waste will be transported may depend on a test and characterization/ classification of each load, with different waste facilities involved.

The RP (Responsible Parties) have indicated problems in remediation of the Northern Impoundment, such as:

— Need for 2-lane 2- way road on north side of I-10 for truck traffic;

— Schedule conflict with I-10 bridge replacement? The EPA and THEA see these as excuses for delaying the completion of the 100% Final Design for the Northern Impoundment, and have informed the RP that a delay or extension will not be approved.