EPA or­ders cleanup at toxic Texas waste site flooded by Har­vey

Santa Fe New Mexican - - NATION & WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has handed a rare vic­tory to en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, or­der­ing two big cor­po­ra­tions this week to pay $115 mil­lion to clean up a Texas toxic waste site that may have spread dan­ger­ous lev­els of pol­lu­tion dur­ing flood­ing from Hur­ri­cane Har­vey.

En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt signed a di­rec­tive Wed­nes­day re­quir­ing In­ter­na­tional Pa­per and McGin­nis In­dus­trial Main­te­nance Corp., a sub­sidiary of Waste Man­age­ment Inc., to ex­ca­vate 212,000 cu­bic yards of sed­i­ment from the San Jac­into River Waste Pits site.

Pruitt vis­ited the Su­per­fund site out­side Hous­ton last month fol­low­ing his­toric rains and flood­ing from the storm, meet­ing with lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists who had cam­paigned for years for ap­proval of a cleanup plan.

Pruitt has said clean­ing Su­per­fund sites is among his top pri­or­i­ties, even as he has worked to de­lay and roll­back an ar­ray of en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions that would re­duce air and wa­ter pol­lu­tion. Often Pruitt has done so at the be­hest of in­dus­tries that pe­ti­tioned him for re­lief from what they char­ac­ter­ize as overly bur­den­some and costly reg­u­la­tions.

At the San Jac­into Pits, both com­pa­nies op­posed the ex­pen­sive cleanup, ar­gu­ing that a fab­ric and stone cap cov­er­ing the 16-acre site was suf­fi­cient. The for­mer site of a de­mol­ished pa­per mill that op­er­ated in the 1960s, the is­land in the mid­dle of the San Jac­into River is heav­ily con­tam­i­nated with diox­ins — chem­i­cals linked to cancer and birth de­fects.

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