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Posts tagged as “Jackie Young”

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.

THEA/SJRC Zoom meeting: Waste Pits schedule extended 160 days

Map of Southern Impoundment. Colors indicate the depth below the surface at which toxic material exceeding >240 ng/kg was found. Dark Green is the worst, at 4 feet. Red indicates the material is 10 feet below the surface. Market Street south of I-10 is the street shown.

HIGHLANDS – Concerns for the Coronavirus have put a temporary end to public meetings regarding the remediation of the toxic waste pits in the San Jacinto River.

But twice this month, Jackie Young Medcalf, the director of the San Jacinto River Coalition and THEA, held ZOOM meetings on July 1 and 15, to inform the public on the status of the remediation project for the pits.

The concentration of meetings was due to the release by the EPA of the 30% RD, or Remedial Design documents. There were over 30,000 pages of data and narrative, covering the Northern and Southern impoundment areas, and the Sand Separation area.

In addition to the report, EPA confirmed that the toxic material was deeper than first thought, and that remediation would take longer than announced.

The time line has stretched from a 2 year project, to now what is expected to take 7 years to complete, according to the engineering consultant, GHD Corp. On top of that, Jackie announced in the July 15 Zoom meeting that EPA had just granted a 160 day extension to the start of the project, moving it well into the year 2028. This will likely conflict with TxDOT’s plans to replace the I-10 bridge with a higher, wider highway.

Jackie said that in examining the RD documents, she was concerned about omissions and inconsistencies. She said that there was not enough “due diligence” exhibited in the work process, nor transparency. In the health and safety section of the RD, she said it was too generic and did not address the specific problems of this site, such as barge traffic and weather extremes such as hurricanes and floods.

THEA protests for stronger EPA remediation

Jackie Medcalf and protestors at the Waste Management Headquarters in Houston

Group wants higher standards for San Jacinto River Waste Pits

Houston, TX – August 6, 2020 – As part of the ongoing fight to remediate the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Jackie Young Medcalf of THEA is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to hold polluters to a higher standard of accountability through ensuring more integrity in the remediation process. On Thursday, August 6 at 10am a press conference was held at Waste Management Headquarters, and it highlighted the recent discovery of how omitted sample data and a skewed site analysis have slanted the outlook towards the site’s remediation and ultimately the disposal of the toxic waste material.

The Waste Pits Superfund Site is the result of dioxin and PCB contaminated paper mill waste that was disposed of along the San Jacinto River in the 1960s. The Waste Pits presented such a great danger to the environment and public health, they were listed for clean-up under the Federal Superfund program in 2008. Recently, the EPA released documents from the responsible parties consultants and our review of the 30,000+ pages of technical reports found that the samples collected for analysis of dioxin disposal classification were almost all collected from areas known to contain no dioxins, and that the consultants requested data be omitted from the lab reports. Joint community, advocate and governmental efforts have made profound progress in protecting aquatic life and public health within the region. However, now there is an overwhelming need for sampling and analysis which address all contaminants of concern and the EPA’s oversight to ensure this process is done with integrity.

What is at Stake?

The longer the waste remains the greater the potential for increased risks of cancer and autoimmune diseases among locals and further contamination to the environment.

THEA continues virtual Environmental meetings

JACKIE YOUNG MEDCALF

HIGHLANDS – The monthly meeting of the San Jacinto River Coalition, and THEA, continue to be held as a virtual meeting on the internet, due to the Pandemic closing all of the available community centers.

Jackie Young Medcalf held the August meeting last Tuesday, and reviewed the significant material that had recently been released by the EPA. This is a series of reports, known as the 30% Remedial Design, numbering about 12 books and 30,000 or more pages.

Her review was from the viewpoint of how the toxic waste will be remediated, how it is characterized for disposal in a landfill, and how it will be safely disposed of and stored for perpetuity.

Jackie also reported that Gary Baumgarten of the Dallas EPA had made a presentation to the CAC, or Community Advisory Council via Zoom, to explain the details of the 30% Remedial Design.

One of the important revelations of the study, is that due to the toxic waste being deeper than originally assumed, much more material will have to be removed, and the project is now projected to take 7 years, instead of the original 2 to 3 years. The new quantity is calculated to be 210,000 cubic yards, 30% more than the original figure of 162,000 c.y.

EPA Releases Preliminary Design for Remediation: WASTE PITS REMOVAL WILL HAVE MAJOR IMPACT ON AREA

Removal method of dry waste inside cofferdam

Plan will cause Seven years of noise, dust, truck traffic

HIGHLANDS – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released many volumes of reports from the GHD Consulting Engineering firm, detailing their ideas for how to remove the toxic wastes from the North and South Impoundments along the San Jacinto River, known as the Superfund Site.

The report is extremely long and detailed, consisting of 10 volumes of information for the Northern Impound Site, and Two volumes for the Southern Impound Site. In total, there are many thousands of pages with data, drawings, boring logs, and most important a Work Plan on how to remove the waste material, and how it will impact the environment around the communities of Highlands and Channelview.

The engineers have proposed excavation within “cells” on the Northern site, encompassed by sheet piling, and on the Southern site removal without the piling enclosures. The full extent of the work includes driving piles to form five cofferdams, dewatering the soil, excavating the material, and hauling it away to licensed landfills approximately 100 miles away. They envision one year of preparation, five years of excavation, and one year of clean-up and restoration, for a total of seven years of work.

SJRC/THEA continues virtual monthly meetings

HIGHLANDS – Due to the continuing pandemic, and restrictions on size of meetings, the monthly meetings of the San Jacinto River Coalition continue to be virtual, over the internet.

Last Tuesday, THEA director Jackie Young Medcalf brought the group up-to-date with a review of the status of several Superfund sites, including the waste pits in the river. Jackie discussed the state cancer registry, and the discovery of cancer clusters throughout the area. Clusters are areas of elevated numbers of cases above the average. Clusters have been noted by the state health department in the Highlands, Channelview areas, and the fifth ward area of Houston.

No causal affect has been determined in these cases, but environmental pollution is an obvious contributor. In the fifth ward, for instance, an old creosote factory used to treat wood railroad ties is thought to be the source.

Jackie is waiting to review the 30% remedial design report for the waste pits in the river, she said. This is due to be released soon, and will reveal the plan for remediation. (As of this writing, it has actually been released by the EPA, but with thousands of pages, a review has not been accomplished.) The report will reveal what types of “treatability” will be available.

Jackie reported on types of waste, and how they are classified. She takes issue with the early report that the toxic material is only Class I, Non-hazardous Industrial Waste, which allows lower standards of remediation.

She discussed the types of cancers, for both children and adults, that have been discovered in the TDHSD surveys.

San Jacinto River Coalition: Virtual Meetings keeping public informed

By Gilbert Hoffman

The San Jacinto River Coalition normally meets every month on the first Tuesday, at a local community center. But since the Covid-19 lockdown mandated by Harris County, the community centers have been closed. To keep the community informed, SJRC/THEA director Jackie Young has been hold virtual reports that are available on the TxHEA.com website.

In her May Report, she discussed the importance of the I-10 bridge and roadway to commerce locally and throughout the nation. She said that TxDOT is planning on replacing the bumper structures that protect the columns supporting the bridge. These columns were severely damaged twice last year by barge strikes. She said that TxDOT is planning a public meeting in the fall to inform the public and receive comments on the project.

In regard to the waste pits, EPA is testing the crushed concrete and blocks that are part of the Cap cover. The idea is that they might be re-used as landfill after the toxic waste is removed, but only if they have no toxicity. As part of the study, they are also checking the quality of the groundwater, to know how to treat it during remediation.

The next step in remediation is for the engineers to present the 30% Design Package to the EPA for review and approval. At some point this will be made public, and THEA can review it to check what direction the process will be headed.

Waste Pits Virtual meeting: 30% Remediation Report on schedule

Jackie Young Medcalf

HIGHLANDS – The San Jacinto River Coalition and its sister organization, THEA held its monthly meeting last Tuesday night by video instead of its usual in-person meet.

The group had skipped its March meeting due to the scheduled wedding of its president, Jackie Young (now Young Medcalf). Then they were faced with the inability to have its April meeting at the community center, due to the lockdown of county facilities because of the Covid-19 flu epidemic. Undaunted, Ms. Medcalf recorded a report which included news of the SJR Waste Pits, the Superfund Jones Road site in Cypress, and even her wedding.

A major question on the minds of many of the Coalition members, and others in the community, is whether the Covid-19 lockdown will affect the schedule of removal of the waste pits. Jackie has discussed this with the EPA project manager, Gary Baumgarten, and reports that work is continuing at the EPA, the engineering consultants, and even onsite remedial repair work. There is no indication of a major delay in the milestone dates of the project, he said.

On-site work is in the river just beyond the north edge of the cap, where the storm Imelda caused erosion of the river bed. Contractors are repairing and restoring much of the material that washed away, to protect the cap. The company in charge of the on-site work has submitted an addendum to their Health and Safety work plan to the EPA, indicating additional protection for their workers from the Covid-19 virus.

San Jacinto River Coalition holds virtual meeting

Jackie Young Medcalf on
THEA video report.

HIGHLANDS – The San Jacinto River Coalition and its sister organization, THEA held its monthly meeting last Tuesday night by video instead of its usual in-person meet.

The group had skipped its March meeting due to the scheduled wedding of its president, Jackie Young (now Young Medcalf). Then they were faced with the inability to have its April meeting at the community center, due to the lockdown of county facilities because of the Covid-19 flu epidemic. Undaunted, Ms. Medcalf recorded a report which included news of the SJR Waste Pits, the Superfund Jones Road site in Cypress, and even her wedding.

A major question on the minds of many of the Coalition members, and others in the community, is whether the Covid-19 lockdown will affect the schedule of removal of the waste pits. Jackie has discussed this with the EPA project manager, Gary Baumgarten, and reports that work is continuing at the EPA, the engineering consultants, and even on-site remedial repair work. There is no indication of a major delay in the milestone dates of the project, he said.

On-site work is in the river just beyond the north edge of the cap, where the storm Imelda caused erosion of the river bed. Contractors are repairing and restoring much of the material that washed away, to protect the cap. The company in charge of the onsite work has submitted an addendum to their Health and Safety work plan to the EPA, indicating additional protection for their workers from the Covid-19 virus.

THEA’s short term goal is to protect the public and the environment from any contamination from the toxins in the waste pits. Their long-term goal, Jackie says, is to continue work on removal and relocation and storage of the dioxins and other toxic materials.