EPA announces San Jacinto River Waste Pits cleanup agreement


EAST HARRIS COUNTY – Environmental activists and residents of the areas around the San Jacinto River Waste Pits praised the announcement Monday that the PRP (Potential Responsible Parties) had come to an agreement with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to start the engineering design work required to implement the ROD (Record Of Decision) that called for the removal of all of the toxic waste from the site.

The EPA press release announcement read as follows:

DALLAS – (April 9, 2018) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that an agreement has been reached with International Paper Company and McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corporation to perform a remedial design for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site selected remedy. The selected cleanup action addresses the potential dangers posed by dioxin contamination at the site in Harris County, Texas.

“This agreement marks the next step in my commitment to the people of Harris County to expedite the remediation of the San Jacinto Waste Pits site,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA will ensure that the remedial design removes all the contamination as quickly and safely as possible and permanently protects the health and safety of the surrounding communities and the San Jacinto River.”

The EPA’s cleanup plan, with support from state partners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, includes installing engineering controls before excavating approximately 212,000 cubic yards of dioxin contaminated material for disposal. The estimated cost for the remedy is $115 million, representing a reasonable value for the cost incurred.

The agreement is a result of expedited negotiations between EPA and representatives from both International Paper Company and McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corporation for design of the cleanup. The remedial design is estimated to take about 29 months to complete to ensure waste is safely and properly contained during construction and removal. The design work will be performed by the companies under the oversight of EPA and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The current quarterly cap inspection and maintenance program will continue while the remedial design is being completed.

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

EPA added the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites in 2008 after testing revealed contamination from dioxins and furans near the waste pits. The 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 dioxins and furans.

While the remedial design is ongoing, the U.S. Department of Justice and EPA will begin negotiations with the potential responsible parties to enter into a consent decree regarding construction of the remedy.

The San Jacinto Waste Pits site is included on EPA’s Superfund Task Force list of sites targeted for priority action. These sites require timely resolution of specific issues to expedite cleanup and redevelopment efforts.