Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan’s office won a $29.2 million lawsuit against the companies that polluted the San Jacinto River with toxic waste from a paper mill in the 1950’s, and now the County Commissioners have voted to return some of that award to the area where the pollution has affected it most. $10 million of the County’s share will be spent on environmental improvements in the Highlands area, according to County Judge Ed Emmett.
In addition, this week State Rep. Wayne Smith announced that the state’s share, approximately another $10 million, will be designated for improvements along the San Jacinto River, and administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
In a statement issued by Jackie Young of the San Jacinto River Coalition, the following was said:
“Tuesday, June 23, 2015 Harris County Commissioners voted for the County’s portion of the settlement funds from the Waste Pits Litigation to be used within a 5 mile radius of the Waste Pits and within the San Jacinto River watershed. In November of 2014 two of the three companies Harris County filed suit against, settled for $29.2 million. Roughly $10 million went to Harris County and will now be used exclusively for projects related to the local environment, recreation, quality of life improvement, and potentially for pollution control services.”