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Posts published in “Day: October 12, 2017”

EPA ORDERS REMOVAL OF WASTE PITS

WASHINGTON, DC – Executive Director Scott Pruitt today announced the final decision on the disposition of the toxic waste dumps in the San Jacinto River, near the I-10 bridge.

In a press release dated Wednesday, Oct. 11 the EPA said they had issued a final “Record of Decision” based on the best interests of nearby residents, local businesses, and downstream resources including the Galveston Bay estuary. The plan for complete removal of the waste material has been modified to provide cofferdams around the excavation of dry material, instead of wet material in the original plan.

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EPA ORDERS REMOVAL OF WASTE PITS

EPA DIRECTOR SCOTT PRUITT SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER FINALIZING “RECORD OF DECISION” WHICH WILL REQUIRE THE RESPONSIBLE PARTIES TO COMPLETELY REMOVE THE TOXIC WASTES IN THE SAN JACINTO RIVER WASTE PITS.

Many praise Pruitt’s decision

By Gilbert Hoffman

WASHINGTON, DC – Executive Director Scott Pruitt today announced the final decision on the disposition of the toxic waste dumps in the San Jacinto River, near the I-10 bridge.

In a press release dated Wednesday, Oct. 11 the EPA said they had issued a final “Record of Decision” based on the best interests of nearby residents, local businesses, and downstream resources including the Galveston Bay estuary. The plan for complete removal of the waste material has been modified to provide cofferdams around the excavation of dry material, instead of wet material in the original plan. The cost is now estimated at $115 million instead of the previous $97 million.

The proposal includes both the Northern and the Southern impoundment areas. 212,000 cubic yards of dioxin contaminated material will be removed from the sites for proper disposal.

Local environmentalists and officials praised the decision of the EPA, including Jackie Young of THEA and the San Jacinto River Coalition. Young has led the fight for removal of the pits for a number of years, prompted by serious health problems she attributes to pollution from the waste pits.

Others who issued statements in favor of the decision included Harris County Attorneys Vince Ryan and Terry O’Rourke, Congreeman Gene Green, and Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman.

Jackie Young told the Star that she was pleased with the decision, but would continue to be engaged in the issue, and be a “watchdog” over the removal project.

One opponent to the decision, the “KeepItCapped” group, issued the following statement:

Statement From McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corp. (MIMC) Regarding the U.S. EPA’s Record of Decision

“We cannot support a plan for the site that provides less protection to all affected communities than the existing cap already has provided. We are deeply concerned that the decision announced today could result in a release to the San Jacinto River and downstream areas. We disagree with EPA’s claim that the local or downstream areas can be protected during removal. We will review U.S. EPA’s Record of Decision in its entirety.”

Here is the full text of the EPA press release, and the Final RECORD OF DECISION:

DALLAS – (Oct. 11, 2017) The cleanup plan to address highly toxic dioxin contamination at the San Jacinto Waste Pits Superfund site in Harris County, Texas has been approved. The selected remedy will protect human health and the environment by removing highly contaminated material from the site and securing less contaminated areas. The plan provides certainty to people living near the site by permanently addressing risk posed by the contamination. It also provides certainty to other economic interests including the businesses that rely on the San Jacinto River for navigation and the Interstate-10 transportation corridor.

“Today, we are announcing our decision to ensure the San Jacinto site is cleaned up for the benefit of the entire community,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “As exemplified today, EPA is prioritizing Superfund clean-up by making decisions in a decisive, timely manner. The San Jacinto Waste Pits site was added to the National Priority List nearly a decade ago, and I am pleased to announce a decision has been made to permanently address the highly toxic materials to ensure health and safety in the surrounding communities.”

EPA’s cleanup plan includes installing engineering controls such as cofferdams before excavating almost 212,000 cubic yards of dioxin contaminated material for disposal. A small amount of material will stay on the site where controls will prevent access, eliminate off-site migration and monitor the natural recovery into the future. The estimated cost for the remedy is $115 million and is cost-effective; representing a reasonable value for the cost incurred.

EPA’s final cleanup plan, called a Record of Decision, addresses comments on the proposed plan concerning the risk of water spreading dioxin contamination downstream by installing controls such as cofferdams to allow for dry excavation of the waste material. Changes in the construction method will effectively eliminate any potential for spreading contamination to downstream areas. The $97 million proposed plan outlined wet excavation of material.

The Superfund site consists of two sets of impoundments, or pits, built in the mid-1960s for disposing solid and liquid pulp and paper mill wastes that are contaminated with polychlorinated dibenzopdioxins (dioxins) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (furans). In 2011, the impoundments were covered with an armored cap as a temporary way to contain the contaminants.

EPA’s decision, fully explained in the Record of Decision, is based on extensive studies of the contamination, human health risks, and environmental risks of this site. The final cleanup plan considers the ever-changing San Jacinto River, which encroaches on the site, and protecting important downstream resources including the Galveston Bay estuary.

EPA’s selected remedy will permanently address the highly toxic dioxin waste materials, meets the federal regulatory requirements of the National Contingency Plan for cleanup of hazardous sites, and is protective of public health and the environment. EPA will release an Administrative Record, which consists of all documents used to support its selected remedy.

EPA added the San Jacinto Waste Pits site to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites in 2008, after testing revealed contamination from dioxins and furans near the waste pits. The northern set of impoundments, about 14 acres in size, is located on the western bank of the San Jacinto River, north of the Interstate-10 bridge over the San Jacinto River. These northern impoundments are partially submerged in the river. The southern impoundment, less than 20 acres in size, is located on a small peninsula that extends south of the Interstate-10 bridge. EPA is the lead agency for addressing the site and cleaning up the contamination, with support from several state partners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Administrative Record, including the Record of Decision, for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site is available online at: https://www.epa.gov/tx/sjrwp and at the following locations:

Stratford Branch Library
509 Stratford Street
Highlands, TX 77562

Vietnam Vet is Crusader for mental illness awareness

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (center) with supporters of the Houston Walk for Mental Health Awareness – Houston

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee recognizes 5K Walk founder

By Allan Jamail

Saturday, October 7, 2017 — Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan started the The Walk Houston 2017, which is all about a Step in the Lime Light, taking Mental Illness center stage. The 5K walk with 317 registered walkers some from the North Channel area completed the 3 plus miles and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee greeted them at the end.

Congresswoman Lee presented C. Patrick McIlvain, a Vietnam Vet, the founder of the Houston Walk, with a Congressional Certificate commending him for his valuable services. Lee said years ago when no one else would talk about mental illness it was McIlvain who began a one-man crusade refusing to allow it to remain silent. He spoke on mental illness at council meetings and anywhere else he could get a listening ear. His relentless effort put so much attention on mental health issues the Houston medical field has experienced an increase in awareness resulting in better funding and services that’s credited for saving lives and healing thousands.

McIlvain said, “This year’s 7th Walk/Expo, hosted by The Walk for Mental Health Awareness – Houston, is very important because of the need to return to normalcy and stability from dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s flooding. Now more than ever there’s going to be a much greater need for 501.c agencies that offer mental health services and our support to their clients. Our family, friends and neighbors need to know where to go for mental health services and support; they do not have to deal with the daily challenges of mental illness by themselves.”

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Houston ISD relieves Furr Principal Bertie Simmons

BERTIE SIMMONS AT XQ PRESENTATION (NC Star Photo)

In September the Houston School district relieved Furr High School principal Bertie Simmons of her duties, to investigate charges then termed “a personnel matter.”

New details have come from a lawsuit she has filed, charging racial and age discrimination and retaliation.

Simmons is 83 years old, and known locally and nationally for coming out of retirement in 2000 and improving the school academically and dealing with gangs that prevailed.

The lawsuit mentions that she has been accused by the HISD administration of threatening her students with a bat if they did not follow the school’s dress code, which HISD administration would like to relax. Simmons denied making a serious threat, only a figure of speech.

Due to her accomplishments, and reputation, the prestigious XQ Project last year gave the school a $10 million dollar grant to bolster her initiatives in discipline and innovative teaching projects. The XQ Project is run by Lauren Jobs, widow of Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs.

HISD issued the following statement:

“HISD has an obligation to investigate when there have been allegations of misconduct. Dr. Bertie Simmons has been temporarily reassigned while HISD investigates the allegations. HISD will respond to the EEOC and the Department of Justice complaints filed on behalf of Dr. Simmons, and denies any allegations of a pattern and practice of discriminatory treatment against employees.”