EPA's Region 6 Office
Serving: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 Tribal Nations
San Jacinto River Waste Pits
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A set of waste ponds, known as impoundments, approximately 14 acres in size, were built in the mid-1960s for disposal of paper mill wastes. In 1965 and 1966, pulp and paper mill wastes (both solid and liquid) were transported by barge from the Champion Paper Inc. paper mill in Pasadena, Texas and unloaded at these impoundments north of I-10, west of the main river channel of the San Jacinto River, and east of the City of Houston between two unincorporated areas now known as Channelview and Highlands.
Because of the complexity of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site, the EPA has decided that additional information is needed prior to a recommendation of a cleanup alternative. The EPA plans to undertake an independent review of site modelling and potential river/weather conditions that might influence remedy selection. The National Remedy Review Board may be rescheduled at a future date. Once this is completed, the EPA will announce a proposed alternative in a Proposed Plan that will be available for public comment. The EPA will also host a public meeting during the comment period to allow public participation in the remedy selection process. The EPA anticipates that the Proposed Plan will be released for public comment during 2015. The EPA will continue to communicate with site stakeholders and the community on the progress at the Site.
- November 15, 2012, Community Meeting.
- Work underway to complete repair of cap on San Jacinto River Waste Pits Site.
Wastes and Volumes
The Champion Paper mill used chlorine as a bleaching agent, and the wastes deposited in the impoundments were contaminated with polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, polychlorinated furans (dioxins and furans), and some metals. Physical changes at the Site in the 1970s and 1980s resulted in partial submergence of the impoundments north of I-10 and exposure of the contents to surface waters. Dioxins and furans are "hazardous substances" as defined by Section 101 (14) of CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. §9601 (14).
The EPA issued an Action Memorandum on April 2, 2010 for a Time Critical Removal Action (TCRA) to stabilize the waste pits and to prevent direct human and benthic contact with the waste materials until the site is fully characterized and a remedy is selected.
A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) is also being carried out to address the nature and extent of activities beginning with the preliminary perimeter. While the two impoundments are currently located directly north of the I-10 Bridge with one partially submerged in the San Jacinto River, an additional impoundment is suspected to be located directly south of the I-10 Bridge and is being investigated under the RI/FS. Watershed management strategies will address permitted disposal activities within the permits area of concern.
After the Site is fully delineated, a complete description will be presented in the Record of Decision, along with Wastes and Volumes to be addressed by the Remedial Action.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has released the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Public Health Assessment – Public Comment Draft.
A hardcopy has also been placed at the following location:
Stratford Branch Public Library (map)
(hard copy and electronic copy)
509 Stratford Street
Highlands, Texas 77562-2547
Please contact Ms. Tina Walker by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone at 512-776-2932, if there are any questions or comments.
Information about the primary hazardous substances documented at the Site:
- ATSDR Toxic Substances Portal - Chlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins (CDDs)
- ATSDR ToxFAQs™ for Chlorodibenzofurans (CDFs)
- Dioxin Inter-Agency Working Group, Updated Questions and Answers about Dioxin
Contact the Region 6 Superfund Division