Removing river waste pits could be as dangerous as keeping Superfund site capped, says Army Corps of Engineers

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HOUSTON – Unless you are a Houston old-timer or you live along the San Jacinto River around Channelview and Highlands, you may not know about of the San Jacinto Waste Pits.

That’s a 14-acre environmental protection agency Superfund site from back in the mid-1960s.

The Champion Paper company built the site to hold paper mill waste and potentially contaminated sediment and soil from its operation in Pasadena.

We’re talking lead, mercury, dioxins, and other carcinogens.

Now, residents of the area are sick, and local and state agencies are tired of the site.

“And every time we have high water to wash in, no telling what it washes in,” said local resident Tommy Johnson.

So, the EPA asked the Army Corps of Engineers to take a look at the site to determine if it’s better to clean it out or keep it capped.

The Army Corps of Engineers didn’t have a suggestion except to say that removing it under best construction practices could be just as effective as leaving the pits capped.

The Army Corps of Engineers also says the waste cap is expected to be stable and permanent, requiring repair following unusual catastrophic events.

Of course, this is the same outfit that told everyone the levees around New Orleans were safe before Hurricane Katrina came to visit.

In Colorado, state health officials say preliminary tests show the Animas River in Durango does not appear to present a health risk, so don’t believe your lyin’ eyes. In fact, they say the levels of lead, zinc, and copper around Durango have returned to their levels before some yahoos with the environmental protection agency last week released three million gallons of mine waste water contaminated with arsenic and lead.

The golden flow has made it to New Mexico where state officials say the river is too dangerous to use for drinking, fishing, and irrigation.

“We could lose our animals, it could damage our crops, it will destroy the soil,” said Dores Stock, who lives along the Animas River.

Meantime, the river continues its steady march to the Grand Canyon, and it won’t be grand when it gets there.

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