HOUSTON — It may look like a street-side Halloween costume contest, but this scary situation is serious business. After all, what's more terrifying than toxic waste!
The San Jacinto River Coalition stood outside the Wast Management office in Downtown Monday and demanded the agency remove the more than 200,000 cubic yards of contaminated material in the San Jacinto River waste pits.
“We’re calling on Waste Management to stop fighting for containment," SJRC director Jackie Young said. "That is the worst possible solution to the San Jacinto River waste pits."
The director is talking about the 14-acre Environmental Protection Agency superfund site from back in the mid-60s, where waste like lead, mercury, dioxins, and other carcinogens were dumped and capped.
Residents blamed the site for contaminating the environment after numerous residents feel ill, and now a battle over whether or not to reinforce the cap or remove the waste is ongoing.
Still, why the costumes? The outfits coincide with the struggle the community endured fighting over the waste pits the past 5 years.
“For example, I’m little red riding hood and the big bad wolf is waste management,” Young said.
McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corp., a subsidiary of Waste Management, which is now responsible for the site released a statement saying, "We'll stand behind a remedy for the San Jacinto waste pits that best protects the environment and public health. Unfortunately, the remedy now proposed doesn't do that — it could result in worsening the river and put nearby communities at risk for years to come."
The River Coalition is also concerned with the stability of the land enclosing the cap. A recent survey of the pit showed an 8-foot deep scour around an edge of the pit.
“We do not trust the responsible party’s argument that no waste was released,” Young said.
Forget ghosts and goblins this Halloween, it’s environmental contamination that brings out the real fear for those living near the pits.