Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts tagged as “environment”

EPA reports first excavation at Waste Pits

Southern site is on schedule for remediation; North under review

HIGHLANDS – Neither a gas smell nor mosquitos could keep the EPA from making their report to the community on progress at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits site. The meeting last Monday night had to be moved outside the Highlands community building, due to concerns about a gas odor detected by the EPA.

The public was pleased to hear that after over 5 years of waiting for some remediation activity, equipment is now on the Southern Impound site and some excavation has started.

EPA Project managers Lauren Poulos and Ashley Howard made a detailed slide presentation, reviewing both the history of the Waste Pits, and the current status of negotiations and remediation.

An audience of about 40, including residents and public officials listened to the most encouraging report in years on the plan to remove the dioxin and other toxic waste from the SJR Superfund site.

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 to hold Waste Pits meeting Dec. 5th; work starts on Southern Impoundment

HIGHLANDS –

The cleanup is starting at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site according to THEA director Jackie Medcalf, and an announcement from the EPA in Dallas. Initially the work will involve the Southern Impoundment site, not the Northern Impoundment.

In addition to the announcement, EPA is planning a Community Town Hall Meeting on December 5. According to Jackie Medcalf, here is what we know about the plan:

Phase One of the cleanup started this week. This includes removing vegetation from the site, building fences, and building a water treatment facility on location.

Physical removal of the waste will start in late December or early January. About 25-30 trucks will haul the toxic waste away to disposal facilities.

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.

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 COMMUNITY MEETING PLANNED

UPDATE ON SAN JACINTO RIVER WASTE PITS

From THEA/San Jacinto River Coalition:

On June 23rd the EPA hosted its first in-person community meeting for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits since 2019. The agency provided an overview of the work that’s been done in the last few years and details of the process moving forward. The community also had the opportunity to meet new EPA team members who have joined the remedial effort as it has become one of the most technically complex cleanups the agency is tasked with.

During Hurricane Harvey, severe scour on the eastern side of the Northern Pit left it at risk of destabilizing. Yet the material to repair it was delayed by weeks due to fog-congested waterways on the Mississippi River.

When the EPA Administrator informed THEA about this, our Executive Director responded, “It is absolutely absurd that our river and Galveston Bay are at risk for catastrophic dioxin exposure because the EPA hasn’t required local storage of emergency materials.”

Since then, the San Jacinto River Coalition has continued pressing the EPA to require material be kept nearby for emergency repairs. And they now have local sources for emergency repair materials in the event that the cap is damaged again.

EPA meets with community on Waste Pits

Ashley Howard, EPA Project manager for the Superfund San Jacinto River Waste Pits, made the presentation and update to the community last Thursday evening at Channelview’s Fluckinger Center.

CHANNELVIEW – Representatives of the federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) met with the public last Thursday evening, June 23 at the Flukinger Community Center in Channelview. The purpose of the meeting was to update interested members of the public on progress in remediation and removal of the toxic wastes in the San Jacinto River at several sites.

The slide presentation was made by the Superfund Project Manager, Ashley Howard, and a question and answer period following the talk was moderated by Jeanetta Coates.

About 75 interested members of the Channelview and Highlands communities attended the meeting. Many of them asked questions after the presentation.

The Audience at Flukinger Center listened intently for almost two hours, while EPA representatives (at far right in the background) showed slides and reported on progress and the schedule. Excavation of toxic material in the Southern Impoundment site is scheduled to start in the fall of this year, but the Northern Impoundment work will not start until next year, and continue for 5 or more years.

Activists watching environmental activities in San Jacinto River

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – Whether it’s toxic waste dumps in the San Jacinto River, or unauthorized dredging and barge facilities, the citizens of Channelview and Highlands have two active watchdogs to monitor and protest when activities threaten the environment.

Jackie Young Medcalf and Carolyn Stone can be heard at many public meetings, questioning public authorities and requesting the proper procedures be followed. This Thursday the EPA will be at the Flukinger Community Center in Channelview to report on remediation work in the river, and the public will have an opportunity to question progress. Prior to the meeting, Medcalf issued the following statement:

Dear Community Members,

We have two important action items for the San Jacinto River Coalition.

EPA meeting June 23 will report on Waste Pits

Rachel Jordan, at left, of THEA updated CHIC members last Thursday, May 26. Above, Ginnie Ramsey and Carolyn Stone of CHIC at the meeting in Channelview.

CHANNELVIEW – CHIC members and guests heard of recent activity regarding the remediation of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, at a meeting held last month at the Channelview FD Station 3.

Public interest remains high regarding the waste pits, and the EPA plans a public meeting for everyone on Thursday June 23rd at 6:30pm at the Flukinger Community Center in Channelview.

Waste Pits meeting May 26 in Channelview to hear new information from THEA/SJRC

Channelview Health & Improvement Coalition will be holding an in-person meeting next Thursday night, May 26th at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be held at the Channelview Fire Department Station 3 located at 1210 Dell Dale, Channelview, TX 77530. There will be a social time from 5:30 – 6:20 p.m. before the meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.