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San Jacinto Waste Pits Superfund Site

A set of waste pits, approximately 14 acres in size, was built in the mid-1960s for disposal of paper mill wastes along the San Jacinto River. The waste pits were located north of Interstate-10, west of the main river channel of the San Jacinto River, and east of the City of Houston between two then unincorporated areas now known as Channelview and Highlands. The wastes that were deposited contain dioxins which are toxic and can cause increased risk of cancer and other threats to human health such as liver damage and birth defects. The waste pits were later abandoned and the surrounding area subsided (the local sinking of land resulting from groundwater withdrawals). The dioxin-laden wastes were exposed to the waters of the San Jacinto River.

The State of Texas referred the site to EPA for listing on the National Priorities List (also known as Superfund) because of the presence of elevated concentrations of dioxin in fish tissue in the San Jacinto River. On April 2, 2010, the EPA issued an Action Memorandum and the respondents installed a cap to stop the ongoing release of waste material. A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was then begun to address the nature and extent of remediation activities beginning with the preliminary perimeter. After the Site is fully delineated, the EPA, with the input from the public will select a remedy that will be implemented to appropriately address the contamination.

The project is led by Jennifer Ronk, Senior Research Scientist and Program Director in Environmental Science and Energy Efficiency. HARC is partnering with the Galveston Bay Foundation EPA. HARC serves as independent technical advisors, reviews site cleanup process reports, provides expert input, and communicates findings to the public. These findings are posted on the Galveston Bay Foundation webpage and communicated to the public via meetings, electronic communications and print pieces.

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Primary Researcher