The San Jacinto River Coalition is a community led group working to educate the public about the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site located in Harris County, Texas. The Waste Pits are a series of toxic, dioxin-filled pits in and along the San Jacinto River (about 18 miles east of Houston, TX). The Pits were abandoned by their creator in 1968 and have plagued the river, surrounding communities, Galveston Bay’s seafood for decades. In 2015 Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed elevated rates of cancer in children and people of all ages near the Waste Pits.
The Waste Pits were once an almost invisible crisis in our own backyard. The Coalition has worked diligently to transform them into a major public policy issue in the Greater Houston area. We have succeeded in developing and mobilizing a network of more than 50,000 supporters including local elected officials and others who have joined us in advocating for full remediation of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits site
-Over the past five years, the Coalition has hosted regular monthly meetings to educate residents and engage them in the ongoing Superfund process. Many residents who live near the Waste Pits struggle with health issues and are tired of the lengthy Superfund process. We have proven that it is possible to sustain community support by continually updating them with new and pertinent information.
Although community involvement is extremely important in the Superfund process, many communities fall short in this area due to lack of government outreach and education. We have worked hard to ensure that this is not case with the San Jacinto River Waste Pits. Citizens regularly fill government meetings to capacity. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also invited us to serve on the Waste Pits Community Advisory Committee and has requested our support for multiple technical reports on behalf of the communities surrounding the Waste Pits. Our multidisciplinary approach and faithfulness to scientific facts have allowed us to maintain a healthy balance between being the voice of communities that suffered from decades of toxic exposure and working constructively with government agencies.
During a 90-day EPA open comment period in late 2016, 55,000 comments and petition signatures were submitted, with over 94% of the comments received during the comment period voicing support for removal of the waste material.
On October 11, 2017, The EPA issued their long-awaited Record of Decision (ROD), which unequivocally ruled in the Coalition’s favor for full-removal. After a years-long fight with corporate giants, we won our David vs Goliath fight against the parties responsible for contaminating the site: the EPA ordered them to fully remediate the site to the tune of $115 million.
On April 9th, 2018, the 3rd Anniversary of THEA’s founding, the EPA announced an agreement with the Responsible Parties for the design phase of the Superfund process. The design work is underway and we remain engaged in the process.
This progress provides strong evidence of the respect we have earned from government agency officials and from federal, state, and local policymakers. Our efforts to act as a credible third party participant in the Waste Pits Superfund process as well as a crucial communication intermediary between residents and government agencies have won bipartisan support.
Protect Our Waters!
The Superfund remediation process is a long and arduous one. However, we have made significant progress in moving cleanup efforts forward with the support of community members like you. You can help us ensure the cleanup of the San Jacinto Waste pits by signing our petition to support the EPA proposal to remove the dioxin filled San Jacinto River Waste Pits.