Cleanup efforts of massive toxic dump on San Jacinto River remain stalled

The numbers are staggering; more than half a billion pounds of cancer-causing Dioxin waste, first dumped in the 60s and then deserted on the banks of the San Jacinto River.

In 2017, after a decade of desperate community outcry, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered the companies responsible for the toxins to fund a complete clean-up.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Baytown man claims dioxin dump the likely cause of his cancer

Five years later and International Paper and Waste Management are quietly lobbying the EPA to let them break their pledge to dig up all the toxin and haul it away.

"You don't stop and say I don't think we can clean that up because we've actually found that there's more waste," said Jackie Young Medcalf with the Texas Health & Environment Alliance. "You address the additional contamination found."

Medcalf has spent a dozen years spearheading the fight for cleanup. She says a recently completed sampling of the toxic dump revealed dioxin waste buried 30 feet deep in the northern portion of the site, increasing the amount for excavation by 50 percent to more than 20,000 truckloads.

"Enough is enough," said Medcalf. "EPA we need you to hold firm. The future of Galveston Bay and the surrounding environment hinges on the clean-up of this site."

RELATED: EPA cleanup of San Jacinto Waste Pits draws criticism

Dangerously exposed to hurricanes and floods, the Superfund site has already sustained serious damage from a series of storms. Experts fear a direct hit could spread Dioxin for miles inland and harshly contaminate large portions of Galveston Bay. 

Local residents like Bobby Stone, with decades of exposure, fear for their health.

"When I was growing up as a kid, we played out there because we didn't know and there are a lot of people that played out there because they didn't know, and it's starting to come back on them now," he said.

RELATED: Barge that hit San Jacinto waste pit has been removed, EPA conducting tests

Longtime resident Greg Moss says he's can figure out only one reason those responsible for the pollution are so reluctant to pay.

"I know quite a few people who have died down there from different cancers," said Moss. "I think it's all corporate greed, that they are not interested in spending the money to do it right."

MORE: EPA says protective cap missing, Dioxin exposed in San Jacinto River

Waste Management shared the following statement with FOX 26: 

"Significant new information that was not available at the time the remedy was originally selected by USEPA has come to light as part of the remedial design investigations. That information- including plans by Texas Department of Transportation to replace and widen the Interstate 10 bridge immediately adjacent to the San Jacinto Site – is detailed in the letter submitted to USEPA, dated March 24, 2022, and indicates that some fundamental changes to the remediation are required in order for the remedy to be implementable."

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