Environmental, political leaders call for action on West Bay Dioxin Pits

Sludge pits feet from Galveston Bay contaminated with dangerous levels of Dioxin.

Since Fox 26 broke the story, reaction from environmental leaders has been fierce and unanimous.

"The Dioxin levels at the site are astronomical and I don't feel comfortable with those levels of Dioxin sitting right there in the Intra-coastal Waterway, next to one of the most precious estuaries in the entire country," said Jackie Young, leader of the Texas Health and Environment Alliance.

"These pits are in a terrible location for waste pits. This may have been the way we did things back in the 60's or early 70's, but those pits are still there today and we are dealing with potential for contamination from pits that would never be permitted today. So, it's a bad site," said Bob Stokes, Executive Director of the Galveston Bay Foundation.

It is a site which for decades took in tons of the same type of Dioxin ridden paper mill waste that contaminated the San Jacinto River in East Harris County.

The dumper at both locations was McGinnis Industrial Maintenance Corporation.

Fox 26's reporting prompted State Senator Larry Taylor to fire a letter at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality demanding "any action necessary to ensure the safety of residents."

Well known environmental attorney Jim Blackburn is going a step further. He's been authorized by the Galveston Bay Conservation and Preservation Association to file a federal lawsuit to force comprehensive testing of all 32 pits, most still open to the elements.

"We need to have testing from top to bottom of those pits to find out exactly what's in them," said Blackburn.

Blackburn's biggest concern is the potential impact of a large storm on a mostly forgotten, under protected dumpsite.

"We are going to look at 20 feet of surge coming in over those pits, maybe more," predicted Blackburn.

McGinnes and the TCEQ claim the Dioxin waste is safely contained and hasn't escaped.

Meantime the Environmental Protection Agency says it is now assessing the test results provided by Fox 26 and will take "appropriate action".