No Galveston Bay Dioxin state testing since 2013

It's hardly a secret that a dark cloud of contamination has hung for years over seafood from Galveston Bay. Scientists view the notorious toxic dump known as the San Jacinto River Waste Pits as a major source of the cancer-causing Dioxin found in fish tissue.

An Only On FOX 26 investigation revealed in February that a massive, largely-forgotten industrial sludge dump at Hall's Bayou on West Bay was yet another alarming source of the deadly compound.

Environmentalists are now calling for comprehensive testing as a matter of public safety.

"We need to make sure that these known sources of pollution are not contaminating our food source," said Jackie Young of the Texas Health and Environment Alliance. "If we don't test, we don't know it's out there." 

While much of Galveston Bay is currently under a Dioxin advisory, FOX 26 News has confirmed that the State of Texas has not tested local seafood since 2013 -- that's four full years without any new data and no way of knowing whether contamination levels are improving or getting worse.

"That bothers me," said Bruce Bodson of the environmental defense group Galveston Baykeeper. "That speaks to priorities. This is one of those things that has become a little too well known to where you cannot test and not do anything. Now there are people asking for something to be done." 

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirms there are no funds currently allocated for near term testing.

A TDSHS spokesman also said it generally requires decades of continued exposure for contamination levels to rise appreciably within sea life. But Young contends failure to gather the data amounts to playing fast and loose with public health.

"If you look at the data that's been done independently, the testing, 98 percent of the tissue sampled near the waste pits contained harmful levels of Dioxins and PCBs," explained Young. "So why isn't our agency testing this?"

The influential Galveston Bay Foundation has also issued a call for immediate and thorough testing.

"A small investment by the State of Texas could go a long way toward protecting the health and safety of the people eating fish out of our bay," said Bob Stokes, executive director of the GBF. "Texas should allocate funding to ensure that the fish we are eating from Galveston Bay are safe and are being tested regularly."