EPA meeting Dec. 5 to review Waste Pits status

HIGHLANDS – The federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) will hold a community meeting on Monday night, Dec. 5, to inform the public about current status of remediation work at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits north and south sites. The public will have an opportunity to ask questions and receive more information, according to Jeanetta Coats of the EPA.

The meeting will be led by EPA Remediation Project Manager Lauren Poulos and other EPA staff members.

Coats said the work involves excavation and offsite disposal of dioxin-containing wastes from the portion of the site known as the Southern Impoundment, an area of about 20 acres on a small Continued on Page 2 peninsula extending just south of Interstate 10.

EPA Regional Administrator Dr. Earthea Nance said, “By starting construction on the remedy for the Southern Impoundment, we are taking the first steps to ensuring these wastes are no longer a threat to the surrounding communities.”

EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order to International Paper in 2021 to address the contamination in the Southern Impoundment. IP contractors will conduct the work under EPA oversight. The first few weeks of work will include personnel and equipment mobilization and site prep prior to the start of excavation. The work is expected to take two years to complete.

Members of the public are reminded to follow posted warning signs and stay out of the fenced areas of the site. A fish consumption advisory remains in place for the San Jacinto River.