San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site
Harris County, Texas
Announcements and Key Topics
Southern Impoundment Remedial Action Update
Excavation activities have concluded as of November 2023, and all impacted material has been disposed of off-site. Remaining field activities include but are not limited to: concrete placement and construction of remaining infrastructure, topsoil placement and site grading, revegetation and restoration of site, and repaving the north/south portion of Market Street.
Northern Impoundment Remedial Design Update
On January 5, 2024, the EPA sent a response letter regarding the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Pre-Final 90% Remedial Design for the Northern Impoundment (90% RD), stating that the submission, required by the Settlement Order, is seriously deficient. Pursuant to the terms of the Settlement, Respondents have a 20-day opportunity to either remedy the serious deficiencies in the 90% RD or submit a plan to remedy each of the serious deficiencies specified in the notice. The EPA will review any plan provided and determine if the plan addresses the serious deficiencies to the satisfaction of the EPA. If the PRPs fail to meet the requirements provided in the notice and the Settlement, the EPA may assume all or any portion of the Remedial Design in accordance with the Settlement Order.
EPA Response to 90% Remedial Design Submission Notification of Serious Deficiency - January 5, 2024 (pdf) (601.6 KB, January 5, 2024)
Southern Impoundment Remedial Action Updates
To date, excavation is more than 85% complete in the Southern Impoundment. The layout of site remediation equipment and facilities has been reconfigured to address waste material in the southern portion of the site and progress has been steady implementing the remedy of excavation and off-site disposal. EPA and the Responsible Party continue to participate in weekly project coordination meetings to discuss administrative and field updates for the site. EPA, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Responsible Party continue to participate in monthly agency meetings and site visits in Channelview, TX to discuss Remedial Action progress and project needs.
Confirmation sampling to address the March 20, 2023, contact water release area was concluded on April 24, 2023. EPA required that split samples be run for an independent analysis at a separate lab. Validated results have been received from this effort and confirm that further action won’t be needed.
EPA approved the Southwest Excavation Area Shoreline Deliverable on September 12, 2023. This deliverable outlines additional bank stability measures to be implemented on the southwestern shoreline and includes a rip-rap embankment and gentler sloping.
Northern Impoundments Remedial Design Update
Respondents submitted the remaining component of the 90% Remedial Design (90% RD) for the Site’s Northern Impoundments on November 8, 2022. This submittal for the Northwest Corner included an additional design for a remedial alternative not selected in the ROD, capping waste in place. The EPA did not review Respondents’ capping alternative as it is not in compliance with the 2017 Record of Decision.
The 90% RD submitted by Respondents is not an implementable design of the selected remedy. It lists what Respondents claim are technical uncertainties with remedy design that they state could render the selected remedial alternative in the ROD technically impracticable. EPA does not agree that Respondents have documented that the remedy is not implementable.
After the initial review of the 90% RD, on December 8, 2022, EPA sent a letter to Respondents expressing its serious concerns with Respondents’ 90% RD deliverable. EPA proposed that Respondents finance an independent, third-party, technical review of the 90% RD to address those concerns.
EPA Letter Design Review Proposal December 8, 2022 (pdf) (234 KB, 12/8/2022)
Negotiations for the design review were unsuccessful and EPA could not justify further delay of the RD to continue discussions. EPA withdrew its proposal for the design review in a letter dated September 8, 2023, for the reasons described in the letter.
The EPA is currently working on a written response to the 90% RD and determining its next steps.
Southern Impoundment March 20, 2023, Remedial Action Update
EPA was notified on Monday, March 20, of a release of approximately 100 to 200 gallons of contact water from the pipeline system on the San Jacinto Southern Impoundment, impacting less than 480 square feet of surface area on-site. All indications are that the release was contained on-site and did not impact any areas off-site. GHD Services, Inc., the remedial contractor for the site’s potentially responsible party, quickly initiated a response with EPA contractor oversight to pump the water back into the treatment system and address impacted soils. EPA is working with GHD to modify procedures and relevant workplans to prevent any future contact water releases and make sure that there is a clear process for responding to any future issues, if necessary.
At approximately 1 p.m. Monday a release of pumped water from the open excavation in the north excavation area was observed near the impacted soil stockpile. GHD shut down operations and initiated response actions including diverting and pumping the released water back into the pipeline and water treatment system and then excavating the impacted soils to 3 inches below ground surface in potentially impacted areas beyond the Remedial Action excavation footprint. EPA’s contractor was on-site at the time providing oversight and conducted a site walk and inspection of the excavation operations to document no off-site impacts were observed. Response activities were completed at approximately 3:15 p.m. the same day.
The source of the release was an open valve on the water treatment system pipeline. GHD has now implemented daily inspections of all valves along the pipeline system, caps for each open valve end, and is looking into locking mechanisms to prevent any future releases from occuring. EPA is reviewing the Emergency Response Plan for additional measures that should be included related to spill and release protocols and response measures. EPA is also developing a sampling approach to determine whether further action is necessary on-site to remediate the area impacted by the release. Coordination is still ongoing at this time related to this incident, but the site has been stabilized.
Southern Impoundment Remedial Action Supporting Deliverables Approved with Modifications
On October 25, 2022, EPA received the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site Southern Impoundment Updated Supporting Deliverables following Remedial Contractor Selection, including: the Field Sampling Plan, Quality Assurance Project Plan, Emergency Response Plan, Transportation and Off-Site Disposal Plan, Site-Wide Monitoring Plan, and Health and Safety Plan, pursuant to the Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) CERCLA Docket No. 06-05-21. On January 6, 2023, EPA approved these Supporting Deliverables with modifications, except for the Health and Safety Plan, which EPA does not approve but reviews to ensure that all necessary elements are included and that the plan provides for the protection of human health and the environment.
See the following links for more details:
Southern Impoundment Remedial Action Construction Start – November 9, 2022
The Remedial Action Construction Start for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund site's Southern Impoundment began November 9, 2022. Initial activities include mobilization of personnel and equipment to the site and site preparation. The remedy is excavation and off-site disposal of dioxin containing waste in accordance with the 2017 Record of Decision pursuant to the 2021 Unilateral Administrative Order.
San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site Community Meeting
Monday, December 5, 2022, 6:00pm to 7:45pm
Meeting slide presentation is available here
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold a community meeting to provide an update for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site. This meeting will be held at the Highland Community Center, 604 Highland Woods Drive, Highland, Texas 77562.
To participate remotely, a listening-only audio option is available by calling +1 202-991-0477 and entering the code 909033633#. The presentation slides will be posted online on the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site website.
The EPA will present an update on the remediation activities that the community can expect to see occurring at the Southern Impoundment through the spring of 2023, as well as a general update on the Northern Impoundment 90% Remedial Design.
EPA will continue to continue to monitor COVID-19 Community Levels in Harris County, TX. Updates on the status of this meeting, if needed, will be posted online on the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site website.
Please see this public notice for more information: SJRWP Community Information Card November 2022
Pre-Final (90%) Remedial Design for the Northern Impoundment
On June 27, 2022, the Pre-Final (90%) Remedial Design - Northern Impoundment (Northern Impoundment 90% RD) was submitted to EPA for review. EPA and other stakeholders are currently reviewing these documents. EPA will provide comments, which will be addressed in the Northern Impoundment 100% RD package.
The Northern Impoundment 90% RD is available at:
Appendix A - Pre-Design and Supplemental Design Investigation Supporting Documents
- Appendix A Part 1
- Appendix A Part 2
- Appendix A Part 3
- Appendix A Part 4
- Appendix A Part 5
- Appendix A Part 6
- Appendix A Part 7
- Appendix A Part 8
- Appendix A Part 9
Appendix B - Geotechnical Engineering Report
Appendix C Part 1 - Treatability Testing Supporting Documents
Appendix C Part 2 - Treatability Testing Supporting Documents
Appendix D - ARAR Supporting Documents
Appendix E - Use of Area-Based Average Concentration to Meet Clean-Up Level
Appendix F - Hydrodynamic Modelling Report
Appendix G - Design Drawing Package
Appendix H - Design Specifications
Appendix I - BMP Structural Design Report
Appendix J - Supporting Deliverables
Appendix K - Sand Separation Area Supporting Documents
Addendum to the Final 100% Remedial Design for the Southern Impoundment
On June 2, 2022, the Addendum to the Final 100% Remedial Design for San Jacinto’s Southern Impoundment was submitted to EPA for review and approval. Among the various design revisions, this Addendum includes updated design specifications and drawings which incorporate the findings from the recent Pre-Construction Sampling effort (conducted November 2021 through February 2022). On August 11, 2022, EPA approved the Addendum with modifications, and the Site’s Remedial Action Construction Start was November 9, 2022.
The EPA approval with modifications letter is available HERE
The Addendum to the Final 100% Remedial Design – Southern Impoundment:
- Cover letter
- Appendix A: PC-FSE Soil Sampling Analytical Supporting Documents
- Appendix B: PC-FSE Waste Characterization Supporting Documents
- Appendix C: PC-FSE Water Supporting Documents
- Appendix D: Design Drawings
- Appendix E: Technical Specifications
Northern Impoundment Partial Schedule Extension – January 2022
The Remedial Design (RD) process for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site is ongoing for the northern impoundment waste pit. The recent Supplemental Design Investigation (SDI) was completed September 16, 2021. After reviewing the data collected and the supporting design deliverables to be submitted, EPA concurs that resulting changes to the RD (modifications to the excavation depths, excavation horizontal limits, and alignment of the best management practice) still require significant engineering and design work and constitute justification for a partial schedule extension. Therefore, EPA approves a partial extension of the Northern Impoundment 90% RD, limited to those deliverables listed for late submittal in Attachment A of the schedule extension approval letter below. Other deliverables will be required to be submitted according to the original January 17, 2022 deadline. The complete Northern Impoundment 90% RD, with the exception of the supporting deliverables in Attachment A, is due June 26, 2021. Although EPA’s partial approval of the extension request will delay the RD process, EPA believes it is critical that the remedy be designed to be implementable in a safe and environmentally protective manner.
The changes to the RD to be addressed in the extended RD schedule include:
1) Increasing the vertical and horizontal delineation of excavation.
2) Determining the increased volume of material that must be excavated to update the amount to be then managed for disposal, the sequencing of seasonal excavation (potentially adding another excavation season), and the expected volumes of contact water for storage and treatment.
3) Modification to BMP alignment.
4) The EPA, its government partners, and the responsible parties need to evaluate downstream modeling data from the Coastal Water Authority (CWA) to inform design, which is not currently available for review.
- Request for Northern Impoundment Schedule Extension on the Pre-Final 90% Remedial Design (October 1, 2021) (pdf) (151 KB, January 2022, CERCLA Docket No. 06-02-18)
- Request for Northern Impoundment Schedule Extension on the Pre-Final 90% Remedial Design – Addendum (November 9, 2021) (pdf) (166.5 KB, January 2022, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Docket No. 06-02-18)
- EPA Approval for Northern Impoundment Pre-Final 90% Remedial Design Partial Schedule Extension (January 12, 2022.) (pdf) (174.1 KB, January 2022, CERCLA Docket No. 06-02-18)
- GHD Hydraulic Heave Analysis Report (December 9, 2021) (pdf) (7 MB, January 2022, 11215702-Howard-16)
- GHD Letter - Concerns Regarding Hydraulic Heave (December 22, 2021) (pdf) (7.1 MB, January 2022, 11215702-Howard-18)
Southern Impoundment Unilateral Administrative Order
On August 5, 2021, EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site to International Paper Company to conduct the cleanup of the southern impoundment. This action will result in cleanup work starting at the site as the larger, more complex design work on the northern impoundments is completed. EPA intends to address the contamination on the northern portion of the site on a separate and independent timeline.
EPA provided advance notice to TCEQ of the agency’s intent to proceed with the enforcement action and has provided the UAO document and associated Statement of Work (SOW). EPA held a conference with the International Paper Company, the Respondent, on August 23, 2021, and received written comments on August 30, 2021, before the UAO was finalized on September 2, 2021. EPA has received a notice of intent to comply from International Paper Company, and with the finalized UAO, the project work can move forward to address the contamination on the southern impoundment.
Remedial construction work is anticipated to start fall 2022 at the earliest due to work plan development, procurement, contractor solicitation processes, and to avoid excavation during hurricane season.
For more information, please visit the following:
Supplemental Design Investigation - Field Work
On June 28, the responsible parties contractor mobilized to the San Jacinto Waste Pits site to begin a supplemental remedial design investigation. Drilling is anticipated to begin on July 19. EPA expects the duration of the field work will be approximately twelve weeks. Field work will be overseen by EPA and/or EPA contractors once drilling begins. Additional details regarding the purpose and scope of this investigation can be found in the Presentation from the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site Community Update Meeting on June 10, 2021, Final Supplemental Design Investigation Sampling Plan Rev1 5-21-21 – San Jacinto River Waste Pits Site.
Final 100% Remedial Design for the Southern Impoundment
The Final 100% Remedial Design for the Southern Impoundment was approved by EPA on May 7, 2021. This document provides the plans to implement the remedy selected in the October 2017 Record of Decision (ROD). The Final 100% Remedial Design for the Southern Impoundment (Amended April 2021) was submitted in April 2021. These documents have been reviewed by EPA Region 6 and EPA Headquarters in coordination with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Harris County and Port of Houston.
The Final 100% Remedial Design for the Southern Impoundment (Amended April 2021) is available at:
Appendices for Northern Impoundment 30% Remedial Design:
Appendix A - Pre-Design Investigation Supporting Documents
- Appendix A – Part 1 of 5
- Appendix A – Part 2 of 5
- Appendix A – Part 3 of 5
- Appendix A – Part 4 of 5
- Appendix A – Part 5 of 5
- Appendix B – Treatability Study Supporting Documents
- Appendix C – Supplementary Deliverables
- Appendix D – Design Drawings
- Appendix E – Technical Specifications
The San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund site, located in Harris County, Texas (Figure 1), 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 dioxins and furans. The northern set of impoundments, about 14 acres in size, are located on the western bank of the San Jacinto River, north of the Interstate 10 (I-10) bridge over the San Jacinto River. These northern impoundments are partially submerged in the river. The southern impoundment, less than 20 acres in size, is located on a small peninsula that extends south of I-10.
The northern impoundments were covered with an armored cap in 2011 as a Time Critical Removal Action as a temporary way to contain the contaminants.
On October 11, 2017, EPA approved the cleanup plan to address dioxin contamination at the site. The selected remedy includes removal of the dioxin containing material from the waste pits and off-site disposal. The EPA’s cleanup plan includes installing engineering controls such as a cofferdam before excavating approximately 212,000 cubic yards of dioxin contaminated material for disposal. The estimated cost for the remedy is $115 million.
Final Listing Date: 3/19/2008
EPA reached a settlement with the responsible parties in April 2018 for the completion of a Remedial Design for the remedy selected in the October 2017 Record of Decision. The settlement agreement, referred to as an Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for Remedial Design, lays out the deliverables that the responsible parties will submit to EPA and the due dates for the deliverables. EPA, in cooperation with support agencies are participating in a series of technical work group meetings with the responsible parties to ensure technical issues are resolved quickly and the design schedule is maintained.
In addition to conducting the Remedial Design, the responsible parties also conduct quarterly inspections of the armored cap cover, fencing, signage, buoys, and security cameras installed for the Time Critical Removal Action. The most recent quarterly inspection reports are provided below.
Following Tropical Storm Imelda’s landfall on the Texas coast on September 17, 2019, heavy rains and flooding occurred throughout southeastern Texas. On Friday, September 20, nine barges broke loose from their moorings in the San Jacinto River upstream of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits. One of these barges became grounded on the armored cap over the eastern cell of the Time Critical Removal Action site. The grounded barge was lightened of its load and removed from the armored cap on Monday, September 23, 2019, under the incident command and supervision of the U.S. Coast Guard. Representatives from EPA, McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corporation, and International Paper Company were on site to coordinate with U.S. Coast Guard during the planning for and removal of the barge.
Following removal of the grounded barge, the responsible parties’ contractor performed a survey of the armored cap as required by EPA, and in accordance with the Time Critical Removal Action Operations, Monitoring, and Maintenance Plan The post-storm bathymetric survey revealed two areas (Channel Areas) outside the footprint of the Armored Cap, in the river channel adjacent to the Armored Cap where riverbed elevations had decreased, relative to the July 2019 quarterly inspection survey. The Channel Areas were located in the vicinity of where the barge was grounded. Based on probing work conducted on the Time Critical Removal Action cap and in the channel areas, there was no indication that any release of waste material from beneath the armored cap had occurred associated with the decrease in riverbed elevations in the two Channel Areas adjacent to the armored cap. Between March 23 and April 9, 2020, additional rock was placed in the Channel Areas to further protect the edge of the armored cap by providing additional slope stabilization and scour protection at those locations.
Between May 20 and June 21, 2019, a contractor for the responsible parties conducted slope enhancement work on the northwest slope of armored cap. The slope enhancement work included the installation of approximately 4,100 square yards of articulated concrete block mat on the northwestern submerged slope of the Time Critical Removal Action cap.
Presentation from the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site Community Update Meeting on June 10, 2021 (PDF)(25 pp, 6 MB, June 10, 2021)
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Evaluation of the San Jacinto Waste Pits Feasibility Study Remediation Alternatives (August 2016)
- San Jacinto Community Meeting Presentation
- Post-TCRA Quarterly Inspection Report April 2016
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Draft San Jacinto Community Involvement Plan
NPL Status: Final
W BANK OF SAN JACINTO RIVER, N OF HWY 10, Channelview, TX
Congressional Districts: 2, 36
Community Involvement Coordinator (CIC):
Remedial Project Manager (RPM):
Additional Site Contact(s):
State Contact (TCEQ)
Citizens can call toll-free line 800-887-6063
All inquiries from the news media should be directed to the EPA Region 6 Press Office at 214.665.2200or email R6press@epa.gov.