Proposed Dioxin pit cleanup draws criticism from Galveston County leaders

Just when folks were truly believing a "dig and haul" solution was a done deal for the Dioxin waste pits on the San Jacinto River, voices of protest are emerging downstream.

Forty miles away in Galveston County, Commissioners have unanimously approved a resolution requesting that the EPA conduct additional public information hearings on the potential ramifications of the toxic cleanup to come.

"It may be perceived by some people as late in the game, but those (public meetings) were in the Highlands an hour and a half away from Galveston Island. We derive a lot of our GDP from the Bay system and we want insure that we protect that system," said Ken Clark, Galveston County Commissioner for Precinct 4.

Clark says, as of now, he opposes the cleanup plan approved by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, preferring instead that the leaking, chronically eroded temporary cap be replaced by a stronger structure to contain the cancer causing toxin.

"If there is going to be sort of a dredging program as opposed to a capping there could be some spillage into the Bay System," said Clark.

But the term "dredging", which Clark uses repeatedly, is at the very least problematic, and at worst, flat wrong.

The EPA cleanup plan for the Waste Pits involves no dredging, relying instead on a series of temporary dams allowing sections of the dump to dry before the Dioxin waste is collected without escaping into the river.

Bob Stokes leads the Galveston Bay Foundation and strongly supports complete removal.

"The concern with leaving it capped is that it would be there for 700 years before that waste is not dangerous to the system and it could leave in an uncontrolled fashion. So the concern with leaving it in place is that it is more dangerous than taking it out and that's been our position from the beginning," said Stokes who supports additional EPA informational meetings in Galveston County.

While Galveston County Commissioners may still have reservations about removal the leaders of Harris and Chambers Counties as well as the entire Houston-area Congressional delegation support a complete cleanup.

Community activist Jackie Young of the Texas Health and Environment Alliance told FOX 26, "The Superfund process for the Waste Pits has been ongoing for nearly a decade. The EPA invited input from the public during an extended comment period, which generated more than 50,000 comments - 94% of those supported removal by excavation of the dioxin wastes from the San Jacinto River. I fully support the EPA hosting a public meeting in Galveston to clean up the slow spread of misinformation."