More Fencing and Warning Signs for Contaminated Area of San Jacinto River

The 20-acre waste pits site sits on the western bank of the San Jacinto River. It served as a disposal area for pulp and paper mills in the 60s. The site is now inactive but the abandoned waste disposal ponds that are submerged in the river have created a public health hazard. In August, Congressman Gene Green sent the EPA a letter asking for additional fencing and signage to warn people not to fish in the highly toxic waters.

“I want to make sure we have plenty of notification there for people who are fishing there that they should not eat that fish, particularly if they’re expectant mothers, or small children.”

The site contains high concentrations of dioxin, a cancer-causing chemical, and was added to the EPA’s list of abandoned waste sites in 2008. The EPA responded to Green’s request in a letter stating it had given preliminary approval to the responsible parties — International Paper Company, who owned the plant, and McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corporation — to increase the amount of signage and add more secure fencing. Green says he’s pleased with the EPA’s action, but hopes the agency will do more to help contain the area.

“We want to push the EPA and the responsible parties to do the engineering studies very quickly so we can stop the leaching of what’s in there. And ultimately we have to figure out how we’re going to clean up that forty years of dioxin in the sediment in that area.”

Green says it’s still OK for people to fish in the area, but says they should catch and release and not eat the contaminated fish.

San Jacinto River Waste Pits

Images taken from http://www.epa.gov/region6/6sf/pdffiles/0606611.pdf.

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