HARRIS CO. (FOX 26) - With 80,000 truckloads of Dioxin waste buried on the banks and beneath the waters of the San Jacinto River, folks in nearby Highlands and Baytown fear leakage from the Superfund site presents a clear and present danger to their health.
It appears now that anxiety may be justified.
Alarming, new, privately funded tests on two nearby water wells have detected trace amounts of the cancer causing toxin in the groundwater.
"We found low levels of heptadioxins and herptafurans which are types of Dioxin and there is a goal of zero exposure to Dioxin because of how toxic it is," said Jackie Young the San Jacinto River Coalition.
Young's group bankrolled the testing by ALS Global which found undeniable evidence of contamination nearly four times universally accepted levels.
Considered one of the most toxic substances on earth, Dioxin does not occur naturally. Young believes the contaminants had to have migrated over time from the San Jacinto River Waste Pits.
"We are finding the same Dioxin from the waste pits north and south of the site in people's front yards and now in the groundwater. People are drinking this water, people are bathing with this water, people are cooking with this water," said Young.
Deeply Disturbed by recent scientific revelations of cancer clusters in communities near the waste dump, 17 year area resident Tracy Magness criticized the EPA for failing to detect the threat and dragging out complete removal of contaminants.
"I'm just worried about my family we live right between two guys who have cancer and have died from it. They should take measures to get that out of our environment as soon as possible and as safely as possible," said Magness.
"I know if the EPA had family living here they might step it up a little bit," she added.
The EPA offered Fox 26 the following statement:
"At EPA, we take protection of public health very seriously. We will carefully review the laboratory report and discuss the findings with the authors.
The US Army Corps of Engineers continues to review options for the final remedy for the site. This includes taking into account new comments and information submitted this fall. Their report is due in March 2016."