EPA to Decide if Tons of Toxic Sludge Will Remain in San Jacinto River

The remedy for a toxic threat to Galveston Bay could be revealed any day now.

By Dave FehlingAugust 26, 2016 9:30 am| , ,

From Houston Public Media

Since the 1960’s tons of a toxic sludge from paper mills have been buried on the banks and submerged in the waters of San Jacinto River that flows to Galveston Bay. Residents and Harris County officials want the waste pits dug up and completely removed.

“Galveston bay is one of the most precious estuaries into our  entire nation. And we need to see this site fully removed now rather than pushing it onto further generations,” said Jackie Young, director of the San Jacinto River Coalition.

But the companies involved in paying to clean up the site point to a study released this month by the U-S Army Corp of Engineers. It warned that digging up the site could release some of the toxins into the river. The pits currently have a protective cap of rock and other material, a cap the report said could be beefed up and might contain the waste without removing it.

The cap would be far less expensive than what the community group wants.

“This is a battle between local communities and corporate giants over money,” Young told News 88.7. She says total removal of the waste could cost $100 million whereas reinforcing the existing cap might cost tens of millions of dollars less.

The U-S Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in Dallas tells us it’s evaluating the proposals and will announce a decision within the next few weeks.