A plan for designing the cleanup of the San Jacinto Waste Pits has been agreed upon by the Environmental Protection Agency and the companies responsible for the contamination, which means it likely will happen sooner rather than later.
The EPA on Monday announced the agreement, the next step toward removing about 212,000 cubic yards of material contaminated with cancer-causing dioxin from the pits. The work is estimated to cost $115 million.
The EPA’s removal announcement in October came just two weeks after officials confirmed that a concrete cap used to cover the pits since 2011 had sprung a leak during Hurricane Harvey’s flooding.
After Harvey, agency officials found dioxin in sediment near the pits at a level more than 2,000 times the EPA standard for cleanup. Subsequent testing, done after the cap was repaired, showed far lower levels of dioxin in that area, officials said in a December meeting.
U.S. Rep. Pete Olson said in a statement Monday that he’s pleased to see state and federal officials taking this step.
“Our community deserves to know the water is clean and safe,” he added. “I look forward to seeing this site addressed as quickly and safely as possible so that folks don’t have to worry about this in the future.”
The waste pits became a federal Superfund site in 2008.
The U.S. Department of Justice and EPA now will start working with the companies to agree on methods for the cleanup.
“Let’s lay down the sword, pick up the shovel and start digging,” Owens said.