Opponents of San Jacinto dioxin clean-up granted more time to comment

- Like most folks in Highlands, Charlie Brownfield has given a wide berth to the tons of toxic Dioxin waste buried on the banks and beneath the water of the San Jacinto River.

 He's long counted on groceries from Foodtown to fill his pantry and wouldn't touch anything caught in the contaminated water near his home.

"It's polluted. No telling what people got sick from it and never go to the doctor about it. I've got grandkids and great grandkids that might get sick from fish over there, eating out of there and that kind of worries," said Brownfield adding, "They need to clean it up. Get off their rear-end and do something about it."

After years of study, it was the gaping holes discovered in the so-called "protective cap" of the Superfund site which helped convince the EPA that the 600 million pounds of cancer-causing material could not be shielded from violent storm and floods.

Urged on by hundreds of residents and the unanimous support of local congressional leaders, the environmental agency last month proposed hauling the Dioxin waste away and forcing the companies responsible to pay the $100 million tab.

It's a decision Waste Management and their allies have decided to fight, requesting and receiving an extension of 45 days for public comment.

Jackie Young of the San Jacinto River Coalition calls it a stall tactic.

"Community members live in fear of this site every day and we see this as an unnecessary setback. What's going to change?" asked Young.

Clean-up opponents claim the Dioxin should be left where it is and capped with concrete, but newly revealed evidence indicates the river current is causing alarming erosion at the edges of the toxic dump site.

"All the modeling in the world won't tell you what's going to happen over the next 750 years, but we've got evidence right now that this site is not suitable for containment. It's very simple," said Scott Jones of the Galveston Bay Foundation.

McGinnis Industrial Maintenance Corp., a subsidiary of Waste Management submitted the following statement:

More time for the public to comment is essential given the sheer volume of new technical documents added by EPA to the administrative record when its proposed remedy was announced. MIMC independently requested an extension to enable all interested parties to have more time to adequately assess the proposed remedy. A final plan that best protects the environment and public health - without worsening the river’s condition - is in everyone's interest.

The public now has until January 12 to comment on the EPA's proposed cleanup plan.

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