HOUSTON (FOX 26) - 17,000 truckloads of Dioxin waste buried beside and beneath the San Jacinto River. The Environmental Protection Agency process of deciding whether to remove the cancer-causing toxins or leave them in place is nearing completion.
Of critical importance to that final call is a 224-page assessment just released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Among the many findings were two key predictions.
The Corps calculated that 80 percent of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits would sustain "severe" erosion in a hurricane.
Jackie Young of the San Jacinto River Coalition calls it confirmation that surrounding neighborhoods and Galveston Bay face extreme risk of contamination in the likelihood of a severe storm.
"The temporary cap has already experienced uncontrolled and unexplained releases," said Young. "It's not a matter of if a hurricane hits or if a barge strikes this site or this area, it is a matter of when."
The second key prediction involves the potential consequence of a full dig and haul cleanup. The Corps calculated that as much as 3.3 percent or as little as 0.3 percent of the waste would be released in a complete removal.
Bob Stokes, president of the Galveston Bay Foundation, insists engineering technology is readily available to sharply limit the amount of Dioxin escaping into the water during remediation.
"You want to put a cofferdam in and put sheet pile around it. You want to de-water the site," said Stokes. "You want to take the material out in a dry condition, if possible, or a sludgy condition if possible. Point three percent is pretty similar to what they did on the Hudson River and they restored 40 miles of river on the Hudson River."
Young said that attempting to cap the toxic waste in place simply insures a horrific inheritance for future generations.
"When we look back, we need our children and our grandchildren to be proud of the decisions we made based on science and facts," added Young.
Michael Talbott, executive director of the Harris County Flood Control District, has written a letter to the EPA urging a complete cleanup of the Superfund Site, FOX 26 News has learned.