EPA cleanup of San Jacinto Waste Pits draws criticism

The ongoing EPA-ordered cleanup of the massive Dioxin dump known as the San Jacinto Waste Pits is drawing sharp criticism from environmental activists.

“I would hate for one of the most high profile sites in our country to be done half-ass,” said Jackie Young-Medcalf, leader of the Texas Health & Environment Alliance.

Young-Medcalf claims the companies responsible for the cancer-causing material are “cooking” data to limit the cost of the cleanup by submitting test samples surrounding the superfund site which contains little or no cancer-causing Dioxin. 

Young-Medcalf also says contractors hired by a subsidiary of Houston based Waste Management have withheld other results from the EPA at their client’s request.

“The waste characterization samples taken for this process were in no way representative of the actual waste material in these pits that is going to see remediation,” said Young Medcalf.

Responding to FOX 26’s request for comment, A spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency said, “After input from the Community Advisory Committee, EPA is committed to follow up with the responsible party for additional waste characterization sampling and copies of the omitted lab data.”

Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia is also deeply concerned.

“Allowing the companies who created this environmental disaster to use sampling that will prioritize their own bottom line would be a serious mistake…the health and safety of our residents is at stake," Garcia said.

“Our bottom line is this: the contaminants must be removed in their entirety, and those materials must be disposed of responsibly. We cannot afford to accept misleading analysis for the sake of expediency. This 60-year-old problem warrants serious EPA oversight throughout the remediation process,” added Garcia.

Congressman Brian Babin also responded to FOX 26’s request for comment.

"I have been proactively working toward the remediation of the San Jacinto River Superfund Site for a number of years now,” said Rep. Babin.

“As recently as last week, my staff participated in a Community Advisory Committee Meeting with the EPA, TCEQ, community leaders, and local stakeholders. 

“This afternoon my office reached out to the EPA and was assured by both their headquarters and EPA Region 6 that they hear the community’s concerns about sampling at the site. They also stated that they will be providing a formal response to the community’s specific questions soon.

“In Congress, I remain committed to ensuring that the site is remediated in a safe and effective manner that protects the residents of our District and the ecosystems along the San Jacinto River and Galveston Bay.”

And there was more troubling news, Young Medcalf says a toxic dump cleanup expected to take two to three years is now being projected by the responsible parties to require seven.