Press "Enter" to skip to content

Rep. Green calls for Cleanup of the Waste Pits

REP. GENE GREEN SPEAKS on the floor of the House of Representatives, urging Congressional action on the ZIKA virus, and the removal of the Waste Pits from the San Jacinto River.
REP. GENE GREEN SPEAKS on the floor of the House of Representatives, urging Congressional action on the ZIKA virus, and the removal of the Waste Pits from the San Jacinto River.

WASHINGTON – Congressman Gene Green continues to press the government for action on environmental issues, including the removal of the Waste Pits from the San Jacinto River, and funding to eliminate the Zika virus.

In a letter to EPA chair of the National Remedy Review Board, who will eventually rule on the method of remediating the Waste Pits, Green urged complete removal of the dioxin waste.

“These waste pits continue to be a public health threat, particularly for communities in Harris County and along the River. Residents have been advised not to drink water or eat seafood that may have come from the area because dioxin can do serious damage to a person’s immune system, and can also cause cancer and reproductive and developmental problems,” Green said. “This is no way to live. We need to take the strongest measure available to clean up the site.”

Currently, the San Jacinto Waste Pits are partially submerged, and contained under a temporary cap near the western bank of the San Jacinto River, immediately north of the I-10 bridge. The pits were created in the mid-60’s by Champion Paper and McGinnes Industrial Maintenance, who filled the ponds with waste paper sludge from a local paper mill until 1968, when they were abandoned.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed six possible cleanup solutions ranging from no further action to full removal of the pits and chemical cleanup. Congressman Gene Green’s letter to the NRRB calls for the strongest mediation proposal, which would permanently remove the dioxin waste from the site and protect local communities from the potential and actual threat that the waste pits pose.

GREEN’S QUOTES:

“The residents in and around the affected area in east Harris County are calling for a timely and permanent solution to the San Jacinto River Waste Pits,” said Congressman Gene Green. “Just last week, the Harris County Health Department announced that dioxin from the waste pits may have contaminated residents’ private water wells. This only serves to exacerbate the public health risk posed to residents and increases the urgency for action.”

Earlier this year, EPA held community meetings in Channelview and Highlands to update residents on the latest developments. The EPA is in the process of writing a final version of its own plan for the site, which the agency plans to release in December 2016. A period of public comment on the EPA’s plan will then begin and the agency anticipates it will make a final decision about the site in the spring of 2017.

Congressman Gene Green again called for the strongest mediation proposal, which would permanently remove the dioxin waste from the site and protect local communities from the threat that the waste pits pose.

WHAT: Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy held a hearing entitled “Oversight of CERCLA Implementation.”

WHEN: Wednesday, July 13, 2016 at 10:00 p.m.