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Posts tagged as “environment”

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.

PCT. 3 COMM. RAMSEY INHERITS SJR WASTE PITS PROBLEMS

HARRIS COUNTY – After realignment of Precinct Boundaries this year, the East side of the county found Highlands split in two, with Pct. 3 on the west side of Main Street, and Pct. 2 on the east side. As a result, the area got a new Commissioner, Tom Ramsey. He is now in charge of roads and bridges, drainage, parks, community centers, and work camps that once belong to Pct. 2 and Commissioner Adrian Garcia. In this opinion piece written for his Notes column, Ramsey opines about the San Jacinto Waste Pits and his take on the problem they present. Ramsey writes:

“In the 1960’s a paper manufacturer dumped their waste into pits near the San Jacinto River. The waste was filled with harmful chemicals including the carcinogen called Dioxin. As the course of the river changed, the pits became submerged. In 2011, the EPA recognized the superfund site, and is now known as the as the San Jacinto River Waste Pits.

Throughout my many years as a professional engineer, these waste pits have been festering, polluting, and killing innocent people and animals around it. We have waited long enough. This week at Court I directed our Pollution Control Director to work with the EPA to expedite the removal of the toxins. Jackie Medcalf, who has been the most ardent supporter of the cleanup effort, told her story at Court as well.

ANOTHER DELAY REQUESTED FOR WASTE PITS, EPA SAYS NO

At a press conference last week, on the banks of the San Jacinto River, Activist Jackie Medcalf calls for no delays requested by the Responsible parties. (THEA photo)

Consultant deems Remediation Plan “unworkable”

By Gilbert Hoffman

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – The Responsible Parties who are supposed to be working on the plan to remove toxic dioxin from the Waste Pits in the San Jacinto River, have instead sent a letter to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) asking for a delay in the schedule, because they state that the current removal methods they had agreed to are unworkable, or “not implementable.”

Citing new information they are asking for a revised ROD (Record of Decision) which tells them how to clean up the site.

At a press conference last week, on the banks of the San Jacinto River near the Waste Pits, activist Jackie Medcalf called for no delay, saying the process has taken too long, and the objections now are simply “smoke and mirrors” in an attempt by the Responsible Parities to avoid or minimize the remediation work.

A current map of the Waste Pits shows the conflict between the I-10 right-of-way for a new bridge, and the need for access for Waste Pits remediation.

LyondellBasell Agrees to Reduce Harmful Air Pollution

LyondellBasell Plant in Channelview, with the San Jacinto River and Highlands in the distance.

Channelview plant cited for excessive flaring
HARRIS COUNTY – Three U.S. subsidiaries of Dutch chemical giant LyondellBasell Industries N.V. (Lyondell) have agreed to make upgrades and perform compliance measures estimated to cost $50 million to resolve allegations they violated the Clean Air Act and state air pollution control laws at six petrochemical manufacturing facilities located in Channelview, Corpus Christi, and LaPorte, Texas, and Clinton, Iowa. Lyondell will also pay a $3.4 million civil penalty. The settlement, announced today by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will eliminate thousands of tons of air pollution from flares.

According to the complaint, the companies failed to properly operate and monitor their industrial flares, which resulted in excess emissions of harmful air pollution at five facilities in Texas and one in Iowa. Lyondell’s subsidiaries regularly “oversteamed” the flares at their facilities and failed to comply with other key operating constraints to ensure the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants contained in the gases routed to the flares are effectively combusted.

The EPA identified potential environmental justice concerns at the two Channelview facilities for exposure to particulate matter (2.5 micron), ozone, toxic cancer risk, and respiratory hazard. The significant emissions reductions of VOCs, HAPs, and greenhouse gases that today’s settlement secures at the Channelview facilities serve to reduce exposure in the community to some of the same air pollutants that they are disproportionately exposed to.

“The Justice Department and EPA will continue to enforce the law against petrochemical plants that violate the Clean Air Act,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “In particular, we are committed to reducing harmful air pollution from unnecessary and improper flaring, especially near overburdened communities with environmental justice concerns.”

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.

WASTE PITS VIRTUAL MEETING: EPA sees longer, difficult remediation work

SINGLE WALL COFFERDAM, TOP, WON’T WORK. DOUBLE WALL BELOW IS NEW DESIGN.

EPA holds virtual meeting to update community on San Jacinto River Waste Pits

EPA CONFIRMS LONGER TIME SCHEDULE, SLOWER WORK FOR SJRWP REMEDIATION

HIGHLANDS — The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) held a virtual meeting last Thursday night, June 10, to update the communities around the San Jacinto River on progress to remediate the Waste Pits. This is the first meeting to interface with the public since 2019, due to safety concerns with the Pandemic that limited the travel for the EPA. However, they did meet in person in April with the CAC, or Community Advisory Committee. For those unable to join the meeting by internet, two in-person viewing sites were set up by THEA, at the Highlands Community Center and the Channelview Fire Department.

EPA brought news that the original designs for excavation and dewatering would not work, and more investigation and planning was required. EPA had discovered that the toxic material existed much deeper than original sampling had indicated, not 12′ but in some cases 35′. This meant much more material would have to be removed. The deeper excavation also meant that a double wall cofferdam would be required to safely excavate, and treating of ground water would have to be done “in the dry” by dewatering, not as originally proposed. All of this meant the project would require additional time, work, and money.

Waste Pits delayed another 270 days

Jackie Medcalf, THEA president, protests at the Waste Management offices in downtown Houston on April 15.

Remediation work may not start until 2024

NO TIME TO WASTE: A Call for Inclusivity and Transparency in the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Process.

HOUSTON – Jackie Young Medcalf, president of the Texas Health & Environment Alliance (THEA) recently learned that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorized a 270-day extension to the design phase of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund process at the request of the responsible parties (International Paper and Waste Management subsidiary, McGinnis Industrial Maintenance Corporation). This extension is on the heels of a 160-day extension authorized by the EPA in September of 2020.

Medcalf feels that the EPA needs to be more transparent and inclusive in these types of decisions. She feels the first extension allowed time for more testing and sampling, but thinks the new extension will just be an unnecessary delay and have the potential problem of moving remediation work back several years and conflict with a new I-10 bridge that TxDOT plans to build over the San Jacinto River.