EPA approves plan to clean up San Jacinto waste pits

The Environmental Protection Agency approved a plan to clean up the San Jacinto waste pits.

CHANNELVIEW, Texas - The Environmental Protection Agency has approved a plan to clean up and remove toxins from the San Jacinto River waste pits.

It's been a long fight for environmental advocates and those who live nearby in Channelview.

"I had no idea what I was exposing myself to," said Jackie Young, who grew up in Channelview next to the 14-acre pits on the west bank of the San Jacinto River north of I-10. "When I lived at home in college, I would study on the banks of the San Jacinto River not far from the site."

The waste pits were declared one of the most hazardous in the nation in 2008. Recently, Hurricane Harvey caused the Superfund site to flood, releasing toxins into the river.

"Our communities live in fear of when the next storm is going to strike our coast," Young said. "It's not if we get hit from another hurricane. It's going to happen."

On Wednesday the EPA approved a plan to remove more than 200,000 cubic yards of contaminated waste from the site.

"For us, this means that our future generations as long as the pits are removed will not to live in fear of when the next storm comes," she said.

Young said this is a far better solution than the temporary caps on top of the waste pits now -- a site Young and her family moved away from because of the health hazards.

"I've heard many people including my own father say I won't live to see this, and that was one of the best phone calls I got to make today -- calling my dad," Young said.

The estimated cost of the cleanup is $115 million. The final cleanup plan is focused on protecting important downstream resources including the Galveston Bay Estuary.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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