Highlands residents want EPA to examine flooded Superfund site

Highlands residents are concerned about toxic water.

HIGHLANDS, Texas - Dwight Chandler's home had been in the family for 75 years, and while he lost nearly everything during Harvey's flooding, he's determined to rebuild.

"Totaled from the ceiling to the floor," Chandler said. "Only thing standing is the interior 2x4s."

As if the flood cleanup isn't worrisome enough, Chandler is concerned about a potentially toxic Superfund site just down the street.

The Highlands Acid Pit was contaminated with "industrial waste sludge" back in the 50s, according to documents from the Environmental Protection Agency. Although the site went through extensive cleanup and remediation back in the 80s, it is still blocked off and monitored by the EPA.

Photos: Highlands residents concerned about flooded Superfund site

As the Associated Press was first to report, that agency has not yet been on site at this and 6 other Superfund sites in the Houston area that suffered extensive flood damage.

"Come here and test the soil around here, you know," Chandler said. "Put a station up and test the air and see what's going on."

KHOU 11 talked with the owner of the property. Chuck Ganze's father-in-law founded the Highlands Acid Pit. He says the family had no idea that the toxic material was dumped there decades ago.

Ganze took KHOU 11 right to the edge of the Superfund site, and we noticed the floodwaters tore through the fencing. The broken lock was found lying on the ground.

"Would you feel a little better about it if (the EPA) did come sometime soon to check it out?" reporter Michael Wooten asked. "Oh yea," Ganze responded. "Yea. It's always nice. People around here always concerned about it, and of course, we're concerned."

The EPA told the AP while it had not yet been able to physically visit the Houston-area sites, workers with the agency did review aerial imagery.

That's not good enough for Chandler, but his bigger focus is on rebuilding.

Luckily, a group of volunteers - completely strangers - showed up Sunday. They joined Chandler and his extended family as they tried to pick up the pieces and rebuild.

"Couldn't do it without them," Chandler said.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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