Harris County Public Health calls for removal of Dioxin dump

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Another persuasive voice has joined the virtual chorus calling for decisive action on the Superfund site known as the San Jacinto River waste pits.

In a forceful letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, Dr. Umair Shah, head of Harris County Public Health, says leaving the tons of cancer-causing Dioxin waste capped in place beside and beneath the San Jacinto River puts at risk the health of Houston-area residents in the event of a natural disaster.

Shah says complete removal of the toxin is the only effective and permanent remedy.

On behalf of the Harris County Attorney's Office, Rock Owens has been battling over the last eight years for a clean-up and says Shah's statement is critical.

"It is a matter of public health," says Owens. "It's not just a matter of what people want or what they feel comfortable with its a matter of safety."

Owens also says a freshly-completed study by the Parsons engineering firm concludes the waste can be excavated and hauled away safely without risk of releasing a significant quantity of the Dioxin into the river.

"It can be done safely and can be done quickly and that's the remedy that needs to be followed," says Owens.
The Parsons report also warns that a highly likely future hurricane strike or barge collision on the dump site could be "catastrophic."

"Once that happens, that's the end game -- it's over," adds Owens. "We'll never be able to clean-up the bay.'' 

There is an online entity that calls itself Keep It Capped which opposes removal of the Dioxin.

For months, FOX 26 News has tried to connect with a single person who will state the case for Keep It Capped, but so far no one has stepped forward.

On the Sept. 2 FOX 26 News at 5 p.m. broadcast, reporter Greg Groogan issued a very public offer, guaranteeing airtime for Keep It Capped to present the organization's arguments on condition that those positions are delivered in person and not from a mysterious website.