Saturday, May 6, 2017

PCB, Dioxin, Toxins, San Jacinto River waste pits, fish, and Galveston Bay

Subject: PCB, Dioxin, Toxins, San Jacinto River waste pits, fish, and Galveston Bay

New analysis of a deceased adult female killer whale, named Lulu by researchers, shows that the animal’s blubber contained some of the highest levels ever recorded of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a toxic chemical once pervasive in electrical components.

The researchers called Lulu the “Scottish killer whale most contaminated on the planet.”

Both dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are extremely persistent in the environment. In July 2008, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) advised people not to eat catfish species or spotted sea trout from the Galveston Bay system, including Chocolate Bay, East Bay, West Bay, Trinity Bay, and contiguous waters. The advisory was issued due to dioxin and PCBs found in fish tissue.

Galveston Bay System: A Survey of Dioxin and PCBs A completed project to assess the distribution of dioxin and PCBs in the system and evaluate options for reducing them so it is safer to eat fish from the area waterways.

Counties: Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Galveston, Harris, Jackson, Matagorda, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria Parameters: Dioxin and PCBs Basins: Bays and Estuaries, Neches-Trinity Coastal, Trinity River, Trinity–San Jacinto Coastal, San Jacinto River, San Jacinto–Brazos Coastal Segments: 0702, 0801, 1101, 1103, 1113, 2421, 2422, 2423, 2424, 2425, 2431, 2432, 2437, 2438, 2439, 2501

Overview Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Background and Goals Get Involved Contact Us Background and Goals

Both dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are extremely persistent in the environment. In July 2008, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) advised people not to eat catfish species or spotted sea trout from the Galveston Bay system, including Chocolate Bay, East Bay, West Bay, Trinity Bay, and contiguous waters. The advisory was issued due to dioxin and PCBs found in fish tissue.

More information about the consumption advisory is available in Advisory 49 on the DSHS web site. Exit the TCEQ Overexposure to dioxin can cause a variety of harmful health problems, including cancer, birth defects, diabetes, developmental delays, and immune system abnormalities. PCBs are linked to increased rates of certain cancers in rats, mice and study animals, suggesting they probably increase cancer risks for humans.

This survey project collected and assessed data to determine the distribution of PCBs and dioxins throughout the bay system and evaluate options for reducing the contamination in fish.

In 2011, International Paper and McGinnes agreed to fit an armored cap over the pits. Meant to be a temporary stay on the steady release of toxins from the dump, the cap allowed the companies to step back and figure out their next course of action.

Meanwhile, independent environmental scientists report that the people living closest to the dump site are at daily risk of exposure to dioxin, which has a half-life of seven years in the human body and up to 100 underground. Dr. Sam Brody of Texas A&M University -- Galveston, a sustainable coasts researcher, characterizes the temporary cap as a "ticking time bomb" unlikely to withstand another major hurricane. Nevertheless, the EPA says the responsible companies are lobbying to keep the cap in place, fueling residents' fears that if a storm dislodges it, toxic flooding could render them homeless.

Greg Moss, a plaintiff in the Harpster lawsuit who has lived in the area for 30 years, says catching clams and crabs, jet-skiing and riding ATVs on the riverbank used to be an all-weekend affair. His boat motor business took a hit when Harris County publicized the existence of the waste pits, Moss says, but he won't blame recreational sailors for keeping their distance. He hasn't been on the river either since he heard about the dioxin.

Moss wants to move, but he's not going to just pack up and walk away from a house he's completely paid off. "It's a nice home with a nice view, a nice property, and by the way, right down the road there's a Superfund toxic waste dump that causes cancer and all kinds of other diseases," he says. "You can't sell it."

The case for neighborhood buyouts has its precedents throughout environmental law. In 2013, Carver Terrace, a Port Arthur public housing project built next to a row of oil refineries, became a case study in successful relocation. When officials determined that residents lived with daily risk of exposure to air pollution and chemical spills, they boarded up the complex and transplanted everybody to a new one. 

More recently, however, a Corpus Christi judge let Citgo slide on paying reparations to locals complaining that the oil giant's uncovered tanks had unleashed the carcinogen benzene throughout their neighborhoods. Residents wanted $55 million for relocation and medical expenses, but seven years after the initial conviction, U.S. District Judge John Rainey ordered Citgo to pay only $2 million in penalties. His reasoning: It would take too long to calculate how much each complainant should be paid.

EPA maps show that the cancer risk for the swath of communities beside the San Jacinto River down to the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay is higher than the state average and other parts of the Houston area, including the central part of the city. Even so, it's difficult to trace residents' health problems to a single environmental factor. The area is a maze of Superfund sites, relics of Houston's lifeblood industry.

Still, environmentalists say the waste pits are undeniably connected to high levels of dioxin found on neighboring properties. They point to state health studies that concluded chemicals found near the dump site pose "high possible risks for cancer" in those who eat local seafood and are regularly exposed to contaminated sediments.

Stop stalling! Clean up the waste pits The public will have 60 days to tell the EPA how the San Jac River waste pits have affected their lives.

Copyright 2016: Houston Chronicle

September 29, 2016 

6 Signs near the San Jacinto River waste pits warn people not to enter or consume fish from the area. Photo: James Nielsen / Copyright 2016 Houston Chronicle Photo: James Nielsen Signs near the San Jacinto River waste pits warn people not to enter or consume fish from the area. 

One of the most beautiful stretches of water in our state is the San Jacinto River north of Galveston Bay. Near one section of the river that swells so wide it resembles a bay, wildflowers sprinkle the grassy fields and fish jump in the blue water. But the bucolic scene is deceiving. It's the site of one of the most poisonous places in Texas. The San Jacinto waste pits lay underneath the river adjacent to the Interstate 10 bridge, between the communities of Highlands and Channelview.

The poison in the pits has been leaking into the water since the early 1960s. It's called dioxin, and it's a highly toxic chemical. The companies that have been responsible for the toxic sludge have been busy in the intervening decades at first ignoring the site, then proposing temporary solutions. Next, they've been bickering with government agencies and generally dragging their feet all the while residents have possibly suffered health consequences from their proximity to the poisonous waste.

The area around the contaminated site resembles modest waterfront communities everywhere. U.S. flags hoisted up on flagpoles wave in the breeze. Clapboard and mobile homes occupy lots commanding views of the river. Some are built on stilts and overlook marshy front yards. Bass boats, skiffs and cabin boats are parked in driveways next to pickups loaded with coolers ready for weekend recreation.

But Texans for decades have been unable to come to the San Jacinto River to recreate, or do much else in this public waterway. No one's been able to swim in the river without risk of exposure to the pollutants' harmful effects. We can't trust that the fish or crab we catch from our boats would be safe to eat. No one can park campers and camp along the banks free from concern. Every year, we all worry that a hurricane will come through and devastate the area and further spread the toxic mess.


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 Demonstrators protest the Republican health care bill at the Capitol in Washington, May 4, 2017. The House will vote on legislation to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act. (Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times) Sunday letters: "Repeal and replace" advancing Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner delivers his annual State of the City address last week. ( Photo by Yi-Chin Lee / Houston Chronicle ) An idea beckons President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan enjoyed a White House victory lap Thursday. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg) Trumpcare Students gather in the Rotunda at the Texas Capitol to oppose SB4, an anti-"sanctuary cities" bill that already cleared the Texas Senate and seeks to jail sheriffs and other officials who refuse to help enforce federal immigration law, as the Texas House prepares to debate the bill, Wednesday, April 26, 2017, in Austin, Texas. Many sheriffs and police chiefs in heavily Democratic areas warn that it will make their jobs harder if immigrant communities, including crime victims and witnesses, become afraid of police. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Sunday letters: Sanctuary cities, private schools, Hispanic (Fotolia) America's doctor Finally on Wednesday the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a solution: removal of about 202,000 cubic yards of contaminated material at cost of nearly $100 million. The agency's rationale: Removal is the surest way to prevent a catastrophe in our area.

It's past time to get this waste out. There's a 60 day comment period before the EPA's remedial action for the site goes on record. Then, there's a period where the EPA will negotiate with the responsible companies - International Paper and McGinnis Industrial Maintenance Corp., an affiliated company of Houston-based Waste Management of Texas Inc., - to remove their pollution from our waterways and to come up with a settlement.

Instead of filing protests and needless lawsuits, Waste Management and International Paper should take this as an opportunity to be good environmental stewards and act to set this wrong right. They should agree to settle this action and enter into a consent decree that will be approved by the courts.

U.S. Rep. Gene Green, whose district included the waste pits for many years, has worked hard to achieve removal and is still willing "to do anything I can do." Now the pits are in U.S. Rep. Brian Babin's district. He needs to push to close the deal.

The stakes are high. EPA has classified dioxin as a probable human carcinogen. Dioxin increases the risk for several cancers, including lung cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and has been linked to birth defects, liver damage and dermatological disorders.

Tissue samples from blue crab, hardhead catfish and other fish in the vicinity of the site show elevated levels of dioxins. Some people do fish and crab around the site even though consumption of mollusks and shellfish taken from public fresh waters is discouraged.

This issue has been around for a while but was most recently revived in a 2014 series of cartoons by the Chronicle's Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson. Anderson's work illustrated a history of the problem that Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan has called "a game-changer" and has done much to raise awareness about the threat that the site poses to Galveston Bay and the aquatic life there.

Removal can be done in a way that keeps people safe. The EPA has spearheaded cleanups on waterways before, most notably on the Hudson River that flows primarily through eastern New York in the United States. The efforts have been so successful that towns along the upper Hudson have begun revitalizing and dreaming about a future where kids can swim and play along the shores without fear of contamination.

Sites of toxic contamination will return to their natural state in scores of years with or without the intervention of man. But it is unconscionable for residents of these communities to have to wait any longer while the responsible companies engage in litigation and stalling tactics.

Area residents deserve to live to see the day that the river is clean and safe again.

 With dioxin contamination confirmed Hitchcock leaders demand more testing at dump

POSTED:MAR 07 2017 06:54PM CST UPDATED:MAR 07 2017 06:54PM CST HITCHCOCK, Texas (FOX 26) - 

From the air, the waste pits appear carved out of Galveston Bay's fragile coastline.

Fox 26 has confirmed these "black lagoons" are dangerously contaminated with the cancer causing chemical known as Dioxin.

"Where do we stand, the city of Hitchcock and some of the other communities around us? This could escape and get into the waters and that's what concerns me," said Mayor Anthony Matranga.

Matranga's call was echoed by former Hitchcock Mayor Harry Robinson who says residents here have long accepted the assurances of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Fox 26's revelation has disrupted that comfort.

"It should concern every citizen of Hitchcock and every fisherman in Galveston County. We need further testing and if we need to have an independent survey or group come in, we should do that," said Robinson.

Turns out, when it comes to the McGinnes pits the state agency has a long history of downplaying the risk. In 1991, Dr. Marvin LeGater, lead environmental toxicologist at Galveston's UT-Medical Branch identified seven known carcinogens in the sludge including highly toxic Chromium, cadmium, mercury, arsenic and lead. LeGater told the Galveston Daily News "For the Water Commission to say that the McGinnis pits are not hazardous is a bunch of bunk."

Former state representative Mike Martin says the chilling confirmation of Dioxin in the toxic stew serves to confirm that the largely open pits pose an ongoing danger to unsuspecting people and Galveston Bay.

"When a fish ingests wastewater effluent and has dioxin in its tissue, it stays. So, when it gets caught and put on the table and eaten by your daughter or your son they are eating a carcinogen and don't even know it," said Martin.

Toxic Contaminant Characterization of Aquatic Organisms in Galveston Bay: A Pilot Study

J.M. Brooks, T.L. Wade, M.C. Kennicutt II, D. Wiesenburg, D. Wilkinson, T.J. McDonald, and S.J. McDonald


Little information regarding historical trends and concentrations of heavy metals, hydrocarbons, pesticides and PCBs in aquatic organisms from Galveston Bay is available to guide decision makers and regulators. Each year millions of pounds of fish and shellfish are caught by commercial and sport fishermen in Galveston Bay and consumed by the public. However, little or no testing of edible tissues for toxic contamination by heavy metals, hydrocarbons, pesticides and PCBs has been conducted to assure public health and safety. For this reason, the Galveston Bay National Estuary Program (GBNEP), funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Water Commission (TWC), undertook this study to characterize contamination in edible fish and shellfish from Galveston Bay.

The sampling design called for the analysis of trace contaminants in five species from four sites in Galveston Bay. The five species of edible fish or shellfish targeted for collection and analyzed were: two macro invertebrates, Crassostrea virginica, the Virginia oyster, and Callinectes sapidus, the blue crab; and three vertebrate marine fishes, Cynoscion nebulosus, the spotted seatrout, Pogonias cromis, the black drum, and Paralichlhys lethostigma, the southern flounder. The goal of the sampling program was to collect ten specimens of each target organism that were of legal market size from each collection site. Standard fisheries data were recorded for all collections. The collection sites for these target species were Morgans Point, at the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel, Eagle Point off San Leon, Carancahua Reef in West Bay, and Hanna Reef in East Bay.

Four samplings of aquatic organisms were launched for GBNEP. The first sampling in late May (23-25) 1990 collected oyster and crab samples; however, trawling for fish was not very successful because Trinity River flooding caused low salinity water. A second sampling was undertaken in early June (6-8) 1990 that involved gill netting at the four sites. This sampling had some success in collecting drum, sea catfish, trout and flounder from some of the sites, although not in sufficient quantities for most analyses. Most fish samples were collected from July 30 to August 3, 1990, after the bay had returned to a more normal salinity. However, the Apex Barge spill on July 28, 1990, complicated late July sampling. Because of this spill, few fish were collected near Eagle Point (close to the oil spill site). A final sampling trip on September 4-6, 1990 completed the collection at Eagle Point.

The analytical program called for the analyses of 10 individual specimens of the target organisms from each site [200 edible tissue (muscle) samples]. Fifty (50) liver samples were composed for analysis from the -120 fishes. The trace contaminants that were measured included heavy metals, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's), pesticides and PCBs and a GC-MS scan for other EPA organic priority pollutants. Trace elements of interest in this study were those on the EPA Priority Pollutant List (PPL) which included: arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), selenium (Se), silver (Ag) and zinc (Zn). GC/MS/SIMs determined polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) including thirty-nine (39) two- to five-ring aromatics and selected alkylated homologs. Gas chromatography with electron capture detection (ECD) determined pesticides and PCBs. Selected chlorinated pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, BHC, heptachlor epoxide, hexachlorobenzene, lindane, mirex, transnonachlor, toxaphene, DDTs, DDDs and DDEs) and 20 individual PCB congeners were quantitated. Analytical methods for both trace metal and trace organic analyses followed procedures of the NOAA National Status and Trends Mussel Watch Program.

In general, trace contaminants were higher in oyster and crab tissues than fish tissue. This was especially true for trace organics and certain trace metals such as zinc, lead, nickel, copper, cadmium and silver. Mercury showed the opposite trend with higher concentrations in fish tissue. Based on the distribution of PAHs and their alkylated homologs, most PAHs in Galveston Bay seem to originate from combustion sources (atmospheric deposition or runoff) and not from petroleum inputs. Low levels of DDT and its metabolites (DDD and DDE) represented the chlorinated hydrocarbons. As expected, higher contaminant levels were generally found in the upper portion of Galveston Bay (Morgans Point) near the Houston Ship Channel.

It is important to note that this study gives only snapshot information about contamination of Galveston Bay seafood. Several unusual environmental conditions occurred during the sampling program which may have altered the representativeness of the organisms collected. First was the flooding of the Trinity River during 1990. The Trinity River dumped an extremely high volume of fresh water into Galveston Bay in the spring of 1990. This flooding produced atypically low salinities during the sampling period. As a result, the samplings were not always successful in collecting target organisms that would have been present under normal salinity conditions. Also, the Apex barge spill, which occurred during the third sampling period, could have had adverse effects on the representativeness of the levels measured and the species collected. If the oil spill added extra contamination to the samples, the values used would be unusually high. Conversely, exposure of the target organisms to pollutants may have been reduced, since it is likely that the organisms were in residence for relatively brief periods due to the prolonged low salinities and the oil spill. If these organisms did not reside in the estuary for periods of time which could be considered typical for estuarine species, due to the unusual conditions, then the data might not be totally representative of typical bay conditions.

In using the data reported here, one should consider the potential implications of these extended unusual environmental conditions and their potential effects on the exposure histories of the organisms collected. With these caveats, the following conclusions were made from the data collected during this study:

• Morgans Point is the most contaminated sampling site

• Contamination generally decreased downbay (except PAH)

• Oysters are generally the most contaminated species, crabs the least

• PAHs and PCBs are responsible for most of the carcinogenic risk associated with consumption of Galveston Bay seafood

• Risk associated with consumption of average amounts of seafood in some parts of the bay is above the 1 x 10-4 benchmark risk level which EPA has previously used to flag possible problems.

Chapter 6

Public Health Protection

Priority Problem

The Galveston Bay Estuary is the state's largest source of seafood, and is one of the major oyster producing areas in the country. Commercial and recreational fishing represents a nearly one-billion dollar industry, and molluscan shellfish (e.g., oysters) and other seafood (e.g., crabs, shrimp, and finfish) harvested from Galveston Bay are consumed by millions of individuals. Maintenance of adequate public health standards within estuarine seafood is important for the protection of the general public, and is also critical for the long-term stability of the fishing industry.

The Texas Department of Health has controlled the harvest of shellfish from Galveston Bay for approximately 40 years, and the quality of produced molluscan shellfish has been maintained at a level which has posed a minimal risk of illness. However, limited funding is available for this shellfish program, and accordingly, shellfish closures are believed to be larger than would be necessary with a greater frequency of field sampling. To address this problem, an expansion of the shellfish sampling program, including more frequent sampling, is recommended.

Galveston Bay receives the largest total amount of industrial and municipal effluent of all Texas estuaries, and also receives significant amounts of contaminants from non-point sources via stormwater runoff. Loading estimates for a large number of metals and organic chemicals are incomplete, and insufficient data are available regarding the distribution of potentially toxic compounds within estuarine waters and sediment. Fish and shellfish from Galveston By are not routinely sampled for toxic contaminants, nor are consumer risks routinely assessed by any government entity and communicated to the public. To address this situation, the Public Health Protection Task Force of GBNEP recommends additional research to establish riskbased standards for toxic contaminants within seafood. Based on established standards, the implementation of a seafood sampling, analysis, and risk communication program is recommended to safeguard the quality of seafood produced form the Galveston Bay Estuary.

PCBs and dioxins persist for many years in the environment. Thus pollution sources from decades ago may still be present and having effects now.

How much of Galveston Bay is affected by the Advisory?

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has issued an advisory recommending limited consumption of spotted seatrout (speckled trout) and all catfish species in Galveston Bay. This advisory includes the following minor bays associated with the Galveston Bay system: Trinity Bay, Upper and Lower Galveston Bay, East Bay, West Bay, Chocolate Bay and contiguous waters. Maps of the advisory area can be found at

What about Spotted Seatrout and Catfish caught outside the Advisory area?

Since spotted seatrout and catfish readily move within a bay system, one potential source of public concern is how extensive the PCB/dioxin problem is within areas adjacent to the advisory area of Galveston Bay. The DSHS study did not include samples beyond Galveston Bay, Trinity Bay, East Bay and West Bay. TPWD is supportive of Texas Department of State Health Services in their attempts to locate additional funding to expand their monitoring efforts in waters adjacent to Galveston Bay and in other bay systems.

Are other game fish species affected?

Sampling conducted by the Texas Department of State Health Services in 2004 and 2006-2007 included samples from other species, including red drum, black drum, southern flounder and blue crab. However, only spotted seatrout and catfish showed elevated levels of PCBs/dioxins that would be cause for concern. This is most likely due to different rates of metabolism between species, age, size, fat content, diet and seasonal behavioral patterns. 




GALVESTON BAY FOUNDATION Remove San Jacinto waste pits dioxin to protect the bay and its users


CLEAN HARBORS Ruling may take more than year in bayou discharge request

Some questions for Larry Taylor 

By ROBB O. ROURKE JR. May 4, 2017 1 

I have a concern and wanted, like many of us that live within your Senate district, your thoughts and opinions as to a cause of actions in response to the discussion on the fact that seafood has not been tested for toxins over the past four years...

that is an excellent question, one that myself and many others that consume seafood from Galveston Bay would like to know the answer too... Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

Senator Larry Taylor

The Honorable Larry Taylor P.O. Box 12068 Capitol Station Austin, TX 78711 

(512) 463-0111 (TEL) 6117 Broadway, Suite 122 Pearland, TX 77581

(281) 485-9800 (TEL) (281) 485-9804 (FAX) District Address 174 Calder Road, Suite 151 League City, TX 77573

(281) 332-0003 (TEL) (281) 332-0036 (FAX) 

Terry S. Singeltary Sr. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Dioxin in Galveston Bay sludge pits along Hall's Bayou

Fox investigation reveals Dioxin in Galveston Bay sludge pits

By: Greg Groogan POSTED:MAR 01 2017 06:51PM CST UPDATED:MAR 01 2017 11:07PM CST 

Just south of the Galveston Causeway, not far from splendid bay side homes, the terrain along the Intracoastal alters, with modest grass covered levees rising from the shoreline.

What lies behind is beyond the casual boater's line of sight, but, from the air all is revealed—a massive chain of grotesque storage ponds, each filled with millions of gallons of toxic sludge.

 by Taboola 

Fox investigation reveals Dioxin in Galveston Bay sludge pits The collection of unnaturally "black lagoons" stretches as far as the eye can see and they've been there for more than 40 years.

Largely forgotten, they came to the attention of Fox 26 because Dr. Kent Hood decided to blow the whistle on what he believes is an enormous and ongoing threat to public health.

"They wanted me to look at these sludges. We know we're not doing the right thing," said Hood.

Hood is talking about waste from the Simpson Pasadena Paper mill where he worked as a chemical engineer. It was waste which contained the cancer causing compound known as Dioxin.

Unbound now by confidentiality restraints, Hood says the contaminated sludge was loaded by the ton onto barges and dumped by McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Company into unlined, open pits along Hall's Bayou.

While the dumping violated no state law at the time, Hood contends McGinnis should have invested in recommended environmental safeguards, especially in relation to closure of the pits. 

"They did not use standard practices. They were negligent and I would say they were beyond reckless," said Hood.

As proof the sludge was toxic, Hood preserved 1992 storage recommendations and test results from environmental consulting firm RMT.

Those tests detected alarming levels of Dioxin in paper mill waste headed to the McGinnis pits.

Hood claims he ordered additional tests that year as well, which probed deeper into the pits.

"The sludges, I later found out, were parts per billion range," said Hood referring to Dioxin.

By the early 1990's the evidence in regard to Dioxin's impact on human health was mounting. It was a known carcinogen and proven to cause developmental problems in infants and infertility.

The primary way people are exposed to Dioxin is through the food supply, primarily fish.

But between 1966 and 1994 when the pits closed, anyone who questioned the safety of the waste was assured by McGinnis that the sludge it stored was harmless, posing no threat to humans or wildlife.

Documents obtained by Fox 26 show in 1993 McGinnis was still making the claim on the record before the Texas Water Commission and successfully persuading environmental regulators.

"The idea of putting it in an open pit on the side of a bay and thinking that's okay. I mean it's stupid on its face," said Mike Martin, a former State Representative who represented the Hitchcock community near the dump.

Twenty five years ago Martin helped lead a fight to close down the McGinnis pits and says the RMT test results confirm his worst fears. 

"It was asked at every single meeting I had and I got lied to and that's unacceptable because of the damage, the harm, the risk of the family sitting at the dinner table cannot be underestimated in any way," said Martin.

State records also show that back in 1992 well known environmental lawyer Jim Blackburn unsuccessfully pushed to have McGinnis prosecuted for dumping toxic sludge without a solid waste permit. 

"Basically there was deceit going on, if not outright lying and I think we need to get it cleared up," said Blackburn.

Compelled by Hood's evidence, to search for more, Fox 26 reviewed records accumulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

What we discovered is deeply troubling - testing commissioned by McGinnis in 2009, which revealed levels of Dioxin contamination in three ponds that were five times higher and more toxic than those found at the notorious EPA Superfund site known as the San Jacinto River Waste Pits.

What environmentalists had long suspected has now been confirmed with hard data from the waste company who did the dumping.

"Clearly there is a Dioxin issue at this site. The fisherman of Galveston Bay should rise up in mutiny against the government if they don't do something about this," said Blackburn.

Isolated behind locked gates on a large swathe of private land, the giant dumpsite is approachable only by water. Dozens of bird species can be seen flying in and out of the contamination zone.

 Along the Inter-coastal and other parts of Galveston Bay, Texas Parks and Wildlife has issued seafood consumption advisories. The principle chemical of concern is Dioxin.

McGinnis and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality claim the Dioxin is safely stored in the pits and hasn't reached the Bay.

But Bruce Bodson, a scientist and attorney with Galveston Bay Keeper, believes there's simply no way these levees safely contained the sludge held within from storm surge from hurricanes like Ike.

"Water gets over, things get churned up material comes out. The entire Bay system has a Dioxin advisory. All of these sites from the mills themselves have contributed over time," said Bodson.

McGinnes, which is a holding of Houston based Waste Management, declined our interview request and offered no response when provided the whistleblower's RMT test results.

The company, did however, offer this statement.

"Measured levels (of Dioxin) are typical of decades-old legacy waste from that period. The facility was certified closed more than a decade ago, the material continues to be safely contained, and TCEQ confirms that the ongoing maintenance of the site continues to be appropriate."

As for oversight, since confirmation of Dioxin contamination at the site more than seven years ago, TCEQ has allowed McGinnes to self-inspect the sludge pits on an annual basis and submit a report.

Advocates for better containment say the current course is risky at best.

"We have not seen the bad storm that is coming and it's coming," said Blackburn.

"We need a buffer between this area and people and their food sources," said Hood.

"This needs to be an emergency priority," said Martin.

On a bay where Texans have built homes collectively worth billions and treasure the health of native wildlife, people must now decide if they're truly protected from a compound among the most lethal and persistent on the planet.

family, friends, and neighbors, TCEQ is NOT working for the people, but for the industry, and Galveston Bay and humans are dying a slow death because of it, imo...terry


GALVESTON BAY FOUNDATION Remove San Jacinto waste pits dioxin to protect the bay and its users


CLEAN HARBORS Ruling may take more than year in bayou discharge request


Friday, December 23, 2016

GALVESTON BAY FOUNDATION Remove San Jacinto waste pits dioxin to protect the bay and its users

Remove San Jacinto waste pits dioxin to protect the bay and its users

Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2016 10:00 pm


The Galveston Bay Foundation has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency, the responsible companies and other stakeholders on the San Jacinto River Waste Pits since this site was placed on the Superfund list in 2008. We are calling for removal of the dioxin wastes, rather than capping.

A cap on the waste pits could fail next spring from a flood or next summer from a hurricane, leading to an uncontrolled release of dioxins. We’d face that risk every year for another 750 years, the time it will take the wastes to degrade to a safe concentration. Removal done right using modern techniques, as has been done at other sites, is much less risky than capping. We need to remove this very real risk to the bay as soon as possible, once and for all.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report did not recommend one way or the other. It certainly did not recommend capping. The corps answered 18 questions posed by the EPA and you have to read all 224 pages to get the complete story. The foundation did so.

The truth is that either “side” could take from the report statements supporting their argument. However, the foundation believes the corps’ statements that highlight the risks of an uncontrolled release from a capped waste pit trump any statements that support capping. The corps stated the uncertainty in any analysis of the long-term reliability of the cap to protect us from hurricanes and floods is very high. In other words, we can’t analyze the risk and produce accurate models to determine if capping will protect us hundreds of years into the future.

The corps report tells us the risk from a controlled removal is acceptable by comparison. The corps writes “Excavating the Western Cell in the dry and containing the rest of the site in a sheet pile wall could reduce the resuspension release of waste to 0.3 percent.” That corresponds to a release of 480 metric tons of dry solids which would contain 2 grams of dioxin. Compare that to the EPA estimation of a 29 percent loss of the dioxin from an “upgraded” cap, 80 percent of which is severely eroded during a severe hydrological event (hurricane storm surge and flood flow). That release is about 140 times the amount of dioxin lost during a controlled removal.

And if you try to further enhance a cap to try to prevent such severe erosion by doubling the thickness of the cap with rocks much larger than what is being currently used, the EPA warns that the wastes could be pushed out of the sides of the cap, which would expose the dioxins to the river and the bay. That is one more reason the EPA came to the conclusion that removal is less risky than a cap. We are thankful they did so.

See for more information on why we support removal. We urge you to do the same by writing a comment letter to EPA supporting their proposed plan by Jan. 12.
Scott Jones is the director of advocacy of the Galveston Bay Foundation.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site (SJRWP) Singeltary Submission


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site (SJRWP) Singeltary Submission

San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site (SJRWP) Singeltary Submission

I hope everyone will join GBF in supporting EPA’s proposed plan to _REMOVE_ the dioxin wastes at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits up in Channelview.  Those wastes pose a major threat to the whole Bay system if the site is hit by a hurricane or flood and GBF has been calling for removal for a couple of years now.  See for more info and a sample comment letter.  Letters are due to EPA by January 12th.

-----Original Message-----
From: Terry Singeltary
To: R6_San_Jacinto_Waste_Pits_Comments
Sent: Wed, Nov 30, 2016 3:50 pm
Subject: San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site (SJRWP)

Remedial Project Manager
U.S. EPA Region 6 (6SF-RA)
1445 Ross Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75202-2733
Dear Mr. Miller-
I am writing you to state my support for the U.S. EPA’s proposal to remove the dioxin wastes at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site (SJRWP). I agree with EPA that removal is the only correct and permanent cleanup solution for this site. I also agree with EPA that containment alternatives cannot be shown to reliably contain the waste over a long-term basis, subjecting the community to the continued risk of a catastrophic release of dioxin.
Galveston Bay and its tributaries have already suffered due to the past release of dioxin from this site. It still poses a major threat today, 50 years after the wastes were first placed here. Those who enjoy recreating on the river and Bay and eating local seafood face a threat to their health due to the presence of dioxin in sediments, fish, and crab. This source of dioxin at the SJRWP needs to be removed now, once and for all, so it no longer poses a threat to our community.

This location is unsuitable for containment. EPA’s own Guidance for In-Situ Subaqueous Capping of Contaminated Sediments states that low-level, dioxin-bearing wastes can be capped and isolated in a low energy environment such as a protected harbor or low flow stream. However, the wastes in this pit are not low-level, and the San Jacinto River is not low energy, protected, or low flow. Attempting to cap the wastes in this location is simply too risky.
EPA has estimated that the dioxin concentrations in the northern pits, up to 44,000 parts per trillion, will NOT degrade to a safe level for another 750 years, so the cap itself will have to endure for over seven centuries as the river and the land around it move and change. A lot can happen at this site by the Year 2766 including hurricane strikes, major floods, new river channel cuts, river course changes, and barge strikes. Any such event could cause containment to fail.
The cap, purportedly designed to withstand a 100-year flood, has had repeated problems in the short 5 years it has been in place. Despite these problems, those responsible now want to convince us that they can make the cap permanent by simply adding more rock. Neither of the original companies responsible for disposing of waste at this location exist 50 years after its initial placement. So, we also have to ask who will repair a cap hundreds of years from now?
Instead of forcing future generations to deal with this mess, we need to take care of it now. Thank you again for your proposed plan to remove the wastes!

with kindest regards,

Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
P.O. Box 42
Bacliff, Texas 77518

on the bottom, Galveston Bay...

Saturday, November 26, 2016




Bay protection needed in addition to Ike Dike, Rice-based center says

By Harvey Rice

November 25, 2016 Updated: November 25, 2016 2:35pm

GALVESTON - As political support builds for a $6 billion storm-surge protection system to shield Texas' Gulf Coast from a future disaster, experts at Rice University are warning that the massive "Ike Dike" proposal won't be adequate to fully protect the coast from a destructive wall of water.

A hurricane with 130 mph winds could whip up a storm surge within Galveston Bay, sending a tsunami-like wave crashing into residential and industrial areas, warned Phil Bedient, the director of Rice University's Severe Storm Protection Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center. Worse, a large-enough storm could push water above the 17-foot storm surge gate that would link dikes on Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, resulting in a potentially lethal storm surge.

"There are just too many ways to overtop 17 feet," Bedient said.

The SSPEED Center says it has come up with the only plan so far to protect the vulnerable petrochemical complexes and residential areas from a surge originating from inside Galveston Bay.

The center believes the bay protection plan, known as the In-Bay System, is necessary to complement the Ike Dike, the coastal barrier recommended this year by the six-county Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District.

While he said the Ike Dike would provide adequate protection from a storm like Hurricane Ike, which made landfall on the eastern tip of Galveston Island in September 2008, it would not do so should a larger or similar storm strike from a different angle. "We just want to make sure we have multiple lines of defense," Bedient said. A storm surge sweeping into petrochemical complexes could cause between $50 billion and $90 billion in damage, he added.

SSPEED and researchers at Texas A&M Galveston, including Bill Merrell, the marine scientist who developed the Ike Dike concept, differed for years over the best approach to storm-surge protection. In 2010, SSPEED proposed several smaller projects that could be built faster and cheaper with local money, reasoning that getting federal dollars would be a long process that might not be completed before the next big storm.

The center's ideas failed to gain political traction, and the storm surge district endorsed the Ike Dike concept. SSPEED now backs the Ike Dike idea, too, but believes it's not enough. It favors building a system of offshore berms inside the bay and a surge gate across the Houston Ship Channel near San Leon. North of the gate, the berms would run along the off-shore side of the ship channel. South of the gate, the berms would run along the side of the channel closest to shore until they tied into the Texas City Levee, which would be raised. At the northern end, a berm-levee would extend east to Houston Point near Baytown and go several miles inland.

Building the In-Bay System would add about $2.5 billion to the estimated $6 billion cost of building the Ike Dike, which itself is part of a broader $11.63 billion plan for protecting Galveston, Harris, Chambers, Brazoria, Jefferson and Orange counties.

The cost of the proposed storm barrier could also be raised by an enhancement being promoted by the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores at Texas A&M Galveston, although no estimates have been made. Instead of raising the coastal highway or building a berm inland, the cheapest methods for building a storm-surge barrier to protect Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, the center is proposing a hard barrier on the beach masked by a dune system built with sand dredged from the Gulf of Mexico. The storm-surge district decided not to include the In-Bay System in its final recommendation because of misgivings by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department about the effect on marine life.

The Texas A&M center is also skeptical about the need for the In-Bay System.

"Rice is doing great work ... but the consensus is that you want to do as little in the bay as possible," said Sam Brody, a Texas A&M marine scientist. He said buying out homeowners in hazardous areas or elevating structures are among the alternatives to the In-Bay system.

The SSPEED Center is studying how the In-Bay System would affect the environment and expects to complete its report in late 2017 or early 2018, Bedient said.

"We are looking at this very carefully," Bedient said. He said that there are already banks of dredged material rising as much as 25 feet out of the water along the ship channel. The In-Bay System would extend those banks, leaving access to the bay through a number of small boat gates.

The levees would be designed with hiking and biking trails that would allow treks several miles into the bay. Bedient said the In-Bay system's lower price means it can be built using local funds, allowing work to begin on it as part of a storm-surge system before federal money becomes available.

Congress won't consider funding the Ike Dike project until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes its study of what storm-surge protection measures are needed. The Corps is studying the entire coast and will make recommendations independent of the storm surge district's. The recommendation for the six-county area in the storm-surge district study is scheduled to be completed in June 2018.

The In-Bay System will be eligible for federal funding only if the Corps includes that concept in its recommendation.

Harvey Rice

Galveston Bureau Reporter, Houston Chronicle

>>> The levees would be designed with hiking and biking trails that would allow treks several miles into the bay.<<<


I remember the RICE SPEED Dike people were wanting to completely draw us off the map to make way for recreational use after the next big one. it's about the big petro chemical and the ship channel that funnels all of Houston Texas waste just about every time they flush a toilet after main breaks or over flows and heads our way. 



Tuesday, September 1, 2015


say no to the RICE DIKE and or any Centennial Gate across the end of Galveston Bay at Fred Hartman Bridge, including the Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area (LSCNRA, which is the RICE DIKE in disguise, don’t take the bait). ...

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

 *** Ike Dike Scientist Professor William Merrell sees NO chance of compromise !

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hurricane Ike: 5 Years Later Conference Rice Dike Proposal September 24-25, 2013

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Monday, November 18, 2013

Is your community just collateral damage? RICE DIKE VS IKE DIKE

Friday, December 6, 2013

IKE DIKE TAMU VS Rice SSPEED Dike Centennial gate from Hell

October 10, 2012

IKE DIKE PROPOSED BY RICE UNIVERSITY hangs our Bayshore communities out to dry, IN 25 FEET OF WATER, to make way for WATERFRONT RECREATION $$$

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Sunday, June 26, 2016


June 21, 2016

The recommendation takes parts of two alternatives that had been released as possible recommendations earlier this year. IT DOES NOT INCLUDE A PROPOSAL TO BUILD A LEVEE ALONG STATE HIGHWAY 146, WHICH DREW OBJECTIONS FROM SOME COUNTY RESIDENTS WHO COULD HAVE BEEN LEFT OUTSIDE THE WALL. snip...

Terry S. Singeltary Sr. Bacliff, Texas USA 77518 Galveston Bay, on the bottom