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News Releases from Region 06

Additional Repairs Planned for San Jacinto Waste Pits Superfund Site

10/19/2017
Contact Information: 
David Gray (gray.david@epa.gov)

DALLAS (October 19, 2017) - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a plan for further repairs to stabilize the riverbed near the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site in Harris County, Texas that was damaged by Hurricane Harvey.  Following the hurricane, EPA has been conducting an assessment of the site to determine the extent of damage caused by the storm, and the potentially responsible parties found erosion of the river bottom adjacent to the temporary armored cap.  EPA directed the potentially responsible parties to stabilize a 40-foot by 400-foot area adjacent to the east side of the cap to prevent future undermining of the armored cap. The temporary armored cap has not been damaged in this area.

Since the hurricane, the survey of the San Jacinto riverbed found erosion of the river bottom up to 12 feet deep near the cap. The total area of river bottom eroded in the vicinity of the cap was over 20,000 square feet. The stabilization work approved today includes placement of a geotextile fabric layer covered with at least three feet of rock with a median diameter of eight inches. It is anticipated that construction will take about three weeks to complete, weather and tide permitting.

Background:

On September 28, shortly after Hurricane Harvey, EPA received preliminary data from sediment samples collected by EPA’s dive team from 14 areas at the site. Samples from one of the 14 areas confirmed the protective cap had been damaged and the underlying waste material was exposed. Repairs to add armored rock to the cap were completed shortly after the sampling was conducted. All repairs to the damaged cap from the storm are now complete. EPA directed the potentially responsible parties to collect additional samples near the damaged area, and sampling has also been completed. Six additional samples were collected and preliminary results did not show elevated levels of dioxins in nearby sediments. Final quality assured data should be available within two weeks.

On October 11, 2017, the EPA announced the cleanup plan the potentially responsible parties are taking to address highly toxic dioxin contamination at the site. The selected remedy should protect human health and the environment by removing highly contaminated material from the site and securing less contaminated areas site (https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/san-jacinto-waste-pits-superfund-site-cleanup-plan-approved ) .

EPA added the San Jacinto Waste Pits site to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites in 2008, after testing revealed contamination from dioxins and furans near the waste pits. The Superfund site consists of two sets of impoundments, or pits, built in the mid-1960s for disposing solid and liquid pulp and paper mill wastes that are contaminated with polychlorinated dibenzo‑p‑dioxins (dioxins) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (furans). In 2011, the impoundments were covered with an armored cap as a temporary way to contain the contaminants. EPA is the lead agency for addressing the site and ensuring that the potentially responsible party cleans up the contamination, with support from several state partners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A copy of the latest preliminary data is available on the EPA website at https://www.epa.gov/hurricane-harvey.

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