28 water wells contaminated with dioxin in east Harris County

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When you live pretty close to a Superfund site on the San Jacinto River, it is not the kind of letter you want delivered to your mail box - Harris County Health authorities warning that initial tests reveal unsafe levels of cancer causing Dioxin in your well water.

The message-stop drinking the water immediately. 

"We are talking about the deadliest chemical known to man potentially at unsafe levels. Residents need to adhere to the warning," said Jackie Young of the San Jacinto River Coalition.

Young has long contended Dioxin from the half century old waste pits has contaminated groundwater. It's a claim the EPA has long rejected, but may be forced to reconsider if these results prove valid.

"These are residents neighboring a large Dioxin pit in the San Jacinto River. Is it a coincidence? I don't think so," said Young.

Fox 26 has learned letters revealing the potential Dioxin contamination went out to 28 well owners of the 100 sites tested. Recipients were also informed that a laboratory error rendered results "inconclusive" and new samples must be tested.

It's re-testing 73-year resident James Fretty predicts will only confirm a clear and present danger.

"I know of about 18 people who have either died of cancer, sick with cancer or other cancer related illness, right now," said Fretty, a retired peace officer.

Despite a cancer cluster study detailing alarming levels of the disease in the area scientists have yet to link any illness to toxins from the Superfund site.

Fretty believes that failure to find a connection is costing lives.

"It is definitely that time. We need to face facts and get this stuff out of this community," said Fretty.

Harris County official say re-testing of the wells will begin Thursday.

Meantime, the EPA is set to announce final plans for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits on July 26th.