Chem­i­cal pos­si­bly leaked at flood site

The Citizens' Voice - - Nation & World - BY MICHAEL BIESECKER

WASH­ING­TON — The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency says an un­known amount of a dan­ger­ous chem­i­cal linked to birth de­fects and can­cer may have washed down­river from a Hous­ton-area Su­per­fund site dur­ing the flood­ing from Hur­ri­cane Har­vey.

EPA said Thurs­day night it has or­dered the com­pa­nies re­spon­si­ble for the San Jac­into River Waste Pits site to im­me­di­ately ad­dress dam­age to a pro­tec­tive cap of fab­ric and rock in­tended to keep sed­i­ments highly con­tam­i­nated with diox­ins from spread­ing. The com­pa­nies, In­ter­na­tional Pa­per and the Waste Man­age­ment sub­sidiary McGin­nis In­dus­trial Main­te­nance Corp., have made ini­tial re­pairs to the un­der­wa­ter sec­tion of the cap where the pro­tec­tive rock was miss­ing.

EPA said a sam­ple col­lected by an agency dive team from the ex­posed area showed dioxin lev­els at 70,000 nanograms per kilo­gram — more than 2,300 times the level set to trig­ger a cleanup. Diox­ins do not dis­solve eas­ily in wa­ter but can be car­ried away with any con­tam­i­nated sed­i­ments and de­posited over a wider area.

Res­i­dents in nearby neigh­bor­hoods that flooded dur­ing the storm are now wor­ried con­tam­i­nated mud might have been washed into their homes.

At least a dozen Su­per­fund sites in and around Hous­ton were flooded last month in the days af­ter Har­vey’s record-shat­ter­ing rains stopped. The San Jac­into River Waste Pits Su­per­fund site is on and around a low-ly­ing is­land that was home to a pa­per mill in the 1960s.

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