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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

Rep. Gene Green Requests Answers Following EPA Report of Dioxin Exposure at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits

September 29, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Representative Gene Green (D-TX) sent a letter to Administrator Scott Pruitt of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) addressing the dioxin exposure that was found at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund site. Thursday evening the EPA Region 6 office sent a news release, which stated that the protective cap at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits was damaged. The EPA has ordered responsible parties to make immediate repairs and conduct supplemental sampling to ensure exposed waste material is isolated.

“The health of the people and the communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey are my upmost concern,” said Green. “The San Jacinto River Waste Pits continue to be a threat to public health and the environment for communities near the site. The damage to the cap and exposure of dioxin, a cancer-causing pollutant, in the San Jacinto River is unacceptable. After this announcement, it is clearer than ever, that Administration Pruitt must follow through on the EPA’s recommendations last year and fully remove the waste pits.”  

Full text of the letter is available below:


September 29, 2017

The Honorable Scott Pruitt
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Administrator Pruitt:

            I am writing to follow up on my last letter in light of alarming new reports of dioxin exposure at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund site in Harris County, Texas. Despite assurances from your staff that the protective cover at the site was intact and that none of the toxic waste was exposed, it is now clear that the cover was damaged and waste escaped. I am particularly troubled that it has been one month since Harvey’s landfall and the public is just being informed of the release of dioxin and other cancer-causing agents into the San Jacinto River. I request your immediate response to the following questions:

  1. When did divers first inspect the cover, and when was the damage detected? Why did so much time pass before divers were deployed, and why did so much additional time pass before the damage was discovered?
  2. What monitoring is being done to assess the extent of migration of dioxin from the breach in the protective cover?
  3. Why did the previous protective measures taken at the site, including after damage was discovered to the protective cap in December 2015, fail?
  4. When will you and your staff meet with the affected communities to discuss these delays and the possible risks they now face?

    It is now clearer than ever that the toxic waste at this Superfund site must be fully removed, as the EPA proposed last year. It cannot safely be capped in place.
  5. Will you commit to require the full removal of the waste pits, and what is your timeline for doing so?

            Thank you for your time and assistance on this pressing matter. Should you have any questions, please contact me at (202) 225-1688.



Gene Green
Member of Congress