Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Clean Harbors Neglects Chemical Toxicity Concerns, Judge Concludes TCEQ Failed To Follow Their Own Written Policy

Clean Harbors Neglects Chemical Toxicity Concerns, Judge Concludes TCEQ Failed To Follow Their Own Written Policy


Judge: TCEQ Failed To Follow Their Own Written Policy

Clean Harbors Neglects Chemical Toxicity Concerns Austin, TX – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality [TCEQ] and Clean Harbors recently tried to pull fast one on the citizens of San Leon, Texas, but were caught red-handed by the Administrative Law Judge overseeing the case. 

Clean Harbors applied for a draft permit to dump effluent containing up to 17 toxic chemicals into Dickinson Bayou and unnamed tributaries with the approval of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality with zero oversight. 

It almost succeeded until a group of San Leon residents and the local municipal utility district put up a fight. One such resident, Lisa Halili, argued that Clean Harbors did not consider “any unanticipated toxic effect” of the proposed discharge. 

On April 24, the Administrative Law Judge who oversaw the February 2017 hearing agreed, noting Clean Harbors failed to take into account the possible “synergistic effect” the 17 pollutants – including arsenic and mercury – could have on Dickinson Bayou and the unnamed tributaries, which could potentially impact the immature marine organisms and bird habitat in the area. 

Turns out, Clean Harbors neglected to include Whole Effluent Toxicity [WET] testing in their draft permit despite an analysis conducted by TCEQ that showed the rating for potential toxicity discharge far exceeded the classification sought in the draft permit. 

Under the Administrative Law Judge ruling, known within the State Office of Administrative Hearings as a Proposal For Decision [PFD], Clean Harbors would now be required to add a WET testing condition to its permit to monitor and determine if the discharge is toxic. 

“The recommendation to include WET testing is a very big win because it will require Clean Harbors to constantly monitor potential toxicity in receiving waters,” stated Joe Manchaca, President of the San Leon MUD. 

The Administrative Law Judge also concluded TCEQ failed to follow its own “written policy, which unambiguously states that WET testing is required as a condition of a permit.” 

Although the ruling by the Administrative Law Judge is not the final decision, it is a step in the right direction in requiring hazardous waste companies doing business in Galveston County to put forth due diligence in protecting Dickinson Bayou and unnamed waterways in San Leon. 


Chad Wilbanks Group

Public Affairs Strategy for Business and Politics 


May 31, 2017 Contact: Chad Wilbanks 512.423.0049 What is Clean Harbors Hiding?

They are opposed to testing toxicity levels in their own hazardous waste discharges. 

Austin, TX – In a case before the State Office of Administrative Hearings where Clean Harbors San Leon has applied for a draft permit to dump effluent containing up to 17 toxic chemicals - including arsenic and mercury – into Dickinson Bayou, they continuously argue against doing whole effluent toxicity (“WET”) testing despite an analysis by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) showing the potential toxicity discharge by Clean Harbors San Leon far exceeding the classification sought in their permit. 

The Office of Public Interest Counsel and the Administrative Law Judge who heard the case in February have both stated that WET testing must be included in the permit in order to comply with the “written policy” of TCEQ. The Executive Director of TCEQ is also on record of not opposing the inclusion of a WET testing requirement. 

It was also previously noted by the Administrative Law Judge that the draft permit Clean Harbors San Leon submitted failed to take into account the possible “synergistic effect” 17 toxic chemicals being discharged could have on the environment. 

What is Clean Harbors hiding and why do they continue to refuse testing their hazardous waste discharge into Dickinson Bayou to prove there is no unanticipated toxic effect? Maybe it’s because they know the discharge is not safe. 

Call Clean Harbors San Leon at 281.339.1352 and ask them why they refuse WET testing? 


PO Box 342693 Austin, TX 78734 · 512.423.0049 phone ·


State should heed judge on Clean Harbors permit 

By MICHAEL A. SMITH May 11, 2017 

 The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality should follow an administrative judge’s recommendation and require water testing by a company seeking to dump treated wastewater into a tributary flowing in Dickinson Bayou.

Clean Harbors San Leon Inc. in May 2015 applied for an amendment to its existing permit from the state environmental agency to discharge up to 105,000 gallons of treated wastewater and treated stormwater each day into a tributary on its property that flows to Dickinson Bayou. 

The proposal quickly drew opposition from neighboring property owners and residents, particularly in San Leon, who worried the company's plan will further pollute the bayou. 

A coalition of residents, including local oyster company owners and representatives of the San Leon Municipal Utility District, protested and sought a hearing from the State Office of Administrative Hearings, which considers disputes over permits. In a proposal for decision published April 24, Administrative Judge Joanne Summerhays ruled the draft permit had not required Clean Harbors to conduct whole effluent toxicity testing, or WET as it's called, on it's discharged wastewater, which is a violation of state code.

The judge recommended the amendment be accepted, but with the requirement...snip...end

Greetings Family, Friends, of Sunny San Leon, Bacliff, Bayview, Dickinson, and anybody else that wants to save Dickinson Bayou and Bay, which both are a part of Galveston Bay. 

i'm not celebrating yet folks.

Clean Harbors Neglects Chemical Toxicity Concerns, Judge: TCEQ Failed To Follow Their Own Written Policy ???

i just can't get over the fact that the Honorable Administrative Judge Joanne Summerhays found that TCEQ failed to follow their own guidelines in demanding that Clean Harbors do WET testing. plus, who in their right mind would let the wolf guard the hen house, and allow Clean Harbors to do any kind of testing on their own. This WET test and any other testing must be done by an accountable independent body, and verified by another independent body, considering now that we can't trust anymore what TCEQ with their own rules and regulations. I simply don't trust TCEQ anymore with anything now that they omitted a very important test such as the WET testing. what else has TCEQ et al conveniently overlooked for Clean Harbors? something smells very fishy here, and it's not dead fish, yet, it's TCEQ and Clean Harbors, imo...

Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

Whole Effluent Toxicity Methods 

""Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) refers to the aggregate toxic effect to aquatic organisms from all pollutants contained in a facility's wastewater (effluent). It is one way we implement the Clean Water Act's prohibition of the discharge of toxic pollutants in toxic amounts. WET tests measure wastewater's effects on specific test organisms' ability to survive, grow and reproduce.

 The WET methods listed below are specified at 40 CFR 136.3, Table I A. WET test methods consist of exposing living aquatic organisms (plants, vertebrates and invertebrates) to various concentrations of a sample of wastewater, usually from a facility's effluent stream. WET tests are used by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting authority to determine whether a facility's permit will need to include WET requirements.

 All manuals include guidelines on laboratory safety, quality assurance, facilities and equipment, dilution water, effluent sampling methods and holding times and temperatures, data analysis, report preparation, and organism culturing and handling.

 Method Guidance and Recommendations for WET Testing (July 2000) 

Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) Testing

Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) Basics - Current TCEQ Policy WET testing: The purpose of WET testing is to assess the effect that a permitted wastewater discharge may have on the aquatic organisms in the receiving waters. This is accomplished by exposing aquatic organisms to the discharge in a controlled test. The test simulates and measures the interaction of constituents in the discharge at a given distance from the point of discharge, typically at the edge of the mixing zone. Regulatory Authority: 40 Code of Federal Regulations §122.44(d)(1) 30 Texas Administrative Code §307.6(e) WET testing is applicable in the following situations Domestic wastewater dischargers with: Permitted wastewater flow of 1 MGD or greater EPA-approved pretreatment program Potential to effect toxicity in receiving waters Industrial wastewater dischargers with: EPA-classified majors Continuously-discharged process wastewater Potential to effect toxicity in receiving waters

Three Types of WET testing

24-hour acute: measures lethality to specified invertebrate/vertebrate species 48-hour acute: measures lethality to specified invertebrate/vertebrate species 7-day chronic: measures lethality and sublethality (growth/reproduction) to specified invertebrate/vertebrate species Test Organisms Used Freshwater: Chronic: Ceriodaphnia dubia (water flea) Pimephales promelas (fathead minnow) Acute: Daphnia pulex (water flea) Pimephales promelas (fathead minnow)

 Saltwater: Discussion Topics Whole Effluent Toxicity Page 2 of 2 Chronic and Acute: Mysidopsis bahia (mysid shrimp) Menidia beryllina (inland silverside)

Passing vs. Failing WET Passing: When the difference between the critical dilution (% effluent at the mixing zone) and the control is not statistically significant, the test is considered to have passed. Failing: When the difference between the critical dilution (% effluent at the mixing zone) and the control is statistically significant, the test is considered to be a failure. After a failure, TCEQ policy requires the permittee to conduct 2 additional consecutive monthly tests for LETHALITY ONLY to determine persistent toxicity. A Toxicity Reduction Evaluation (TRE) is required when persistent toxicity is demonstrated after the initial failure and when both subsequent retests fail. Toxicity Reduction Evaluation (TRE): A test method to try to determine the source of the lethal toxicity. There are three possible outcomes to a TRE: Chemical specific limit: If an actual toxicant was identified as causing the test failure, then a limit is placed in the permit for that particular toxicant. This limit is enforceable. Whole Effluent Toxicity limit (WET limit): If no single toxicant was identified, then a limit is placed in the permit for the toxicity of the entire effluent. This limit is enforceable.

Best Management Practice (BMP): Very rarely used; assessed in situations were a BMP will clearly prevent the toxicant from ever entering the wastewater treatment system. The current Implementation Procedures also indicate that persistent sublethal effects may have to be addressed by a TRE to attempt to determine a source of sublethal toxicity. Currently, there are no stipulations indicating this may lead to a sublethal WET limit.


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

Sunday, November 20, 2016 

Clean Harbors San Leon, Texas Environmental groups join fight against controversial permit application 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 

Clean Harbors Hearing set in company’s request to discharge into Dickinson bayou 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 

CLEAN HARBORS SAN LEON TCEQ Permit No.: WQ0004086000 Final Plea For Appeal For Hearing 

Saturday, July 18, 2015 


Terry S. Singeltary Sr., Bacliff, Texas, USA, Galveston Bay



RN Number: 


Permit No.: WQ0004086000 

Singeltary Submission; 

Greetings TCEQ et al, 

I kindly wish to submit my strong opposition for any permit for CLEAN HARBORS SAN LEON TCEQ Permit No.: WQ0004086000, to allow any treated or non-treated waste water, or anything else, to be allowed to be discharged into the Dickinson Bayou watershed or nearby locations adjacent to Dickinson Bay, inside of Galveston bay. 

The Public needs to be able to comment on this, and should. 

The Dickinson Bayou watershed has been so strained environmentally due to many reasons over the past decades, some reasons include Livestock, Pets, faulty septic systems, agricultural activities, urban run-off and what all that contains, pesticide runoff, waste water treatment plants, just to name a few, but now we have an industrial complex that wants to grow at the mouth of Dickinson Bayou, a Bayou that already has studies that show it’s very sluggish in terms of tidal movement, and a Bayou that has consistently been in trouble, year after year after decade. 

In my opinion, I believe one of the main reasons that causes this, besides all the pollution, is the fact Dickinson Bayou needs to, should have been dredged, with a continuous dredge maintained from inside the mouth, and past the old grave yard, across those flats, on up until Dickinson Bayou gets deep, all the way to the ship channel. 

The water quality in Dickinson Bayou, has been bad for some time due to little tidal movement. Just very recently, the Houston Chronicle ran an article on a workshop (see below in reference materials) on how to improve Dickinson Bayou due to unacceptably high levels of bacteria, posing possible health and environmental risks. so why would TCEQ or anyone allow such a permit to throw more fuel to the fire? the old spillway inlet at the mouth of Dickinson Bayou, and outlet over on the Bacliff Side, is and has been dead in the water years and years, with no movement through there to help oxygenate the water, we have had numerous fish kills, with one massive flounder kill. 

why can the ship channel have a continuous life time dredge for the tanker traffic, but yet never dredge Dickinson Bayou, when the Army Corp of Eng said long ago that this needed to be done to maintain a healthy Bayou? what are we waiting on? 

Via the FOIA, I received the HL&P construction permits back in the 60’s, and the dredging that the Army Corp of engineers said would come and be maintained constantly. 

That never happened. 

This constant maintaining of a dredge was to be done all the way to the ship channel, to prevent just what has happened, and it says so in the permit. 

see permit PDF in my reference materials below. 

Until Dickinson Bayou is dredged out and all the way to the ship channel so Dickinson Bayou can breath again, anything else in my opinion will be futile. 

with no changes to the plan to address the issue of dredging Dickinson Bayou to address the tidal flow issues, and proper flushing of Dickinson Bayou, all your going to have is a toilet that does not flush properly, that our children have been playing and swimming in, and consuming the seafood there from. 

some kind of tourist attraction, welcome to the Toilet Bowl. 

I strongly protest, and strongly object, in totality, to Permit No.: WQ0004086000 for CLEAN HARBORS SAN LEON TCEQ RN Number: RN100890235, please deny this permit. ... 

 Terry S. Singeltary Sr. Bacliff, Texas 77518 



Item 35 

Docket No. 2014-1366-PWS-E. 

Consideration of an Agreed Order assessing administrative penalties and requiring certain actions of Clean Harbors San Leon, Inc. in Galveston County; RN100890235; for public drinking water violations pursuant to Tex. Health & Safety Code ch. 341 and the rules of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. 

 Item 35 Docket No. 2014-1366-PWS-E. Consideration of an Agreed Order assessing administrative penalties and requiring certain actions of Clean Harbors San Leon, Inc. in Galveston County; RN100890235; for public drinking water violations pursuant to Tex. Health & Safety Code ch. 341 and the rules of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. (Jessica Schildwachter, Candy Garrett) Approve the Agreed Order. ZC/TB; all agree. 

An agreed order was entered regarding Clean Harbors San Leon, Inc., Docket No. 2014-1366-PWS-E on April 1, 2015, assessing $234 in administrative penalties with $234 deferred. 

Terry S. Singeltary Sr. previous comment 

Response to Public Comments Eight TMDLs for Indicator Bacteria in Dickinson Bayou and Three Tidal Tributaries (Segments 1103 and 1104) 

November 12, 2013 

Terry Singeltary (written) 

The TCEQ efforts to bring back quality water, instead of polluted water to the Dickinson Bayou and its Tributaries, are greatly appreciated. However, I think it all will be futile, if Dickinson Bayou is not dredged out to where the water can flow freely with the tidal movements. I believe that due to Dickinson Bayou not being dredged and maintained properly, to allow for a maximum flow, by Houston Lighting and Power Co. (HL&P) is/was a cause to a great many of our problems in Dickinson Bayou, and surrounding waters. I also believe that HL&P, the Army, or the Army Corp of Engineers should foot the total bill for the dredging. 

The TCEQ and local stakeholders in the Dickinson Bayou watershed have agreed to work together to reduce bacteria pollution in Dickinson Bayou and its tributaries, as described in the I-Plan document. At the same time, stakeholders in the watershed are continuing to explore ways to decrease the effects of pollution on Dickinson Bayou. The TCEQ does not have regulatory authority to compel private or public entities to dredge Texas waterways to improve flow. No changes were made to the I-Plan based on this comment. 

Workshop to look at efforts to protect, improve Dickinson Bayou 

By Annette Baird 

Updated 1:10 pm, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 

*** But the 100-square-mile watershed, from which water flows into Dickinson and Galveston bays, has been tested with unacceptably high levels of bacteria, posing possible health and environmental risks. *** 

High concentrations of bacteria measured in Dickinson Bayou Tidal, Segment 1103, and four of its tributaries might pose a health risk for people who swim or wade in the bayou. Bacteria from human and animal waste may indicate the presence of disease-causing microorganisms that may cause illness. 

Dickinson Bayou does not meet water quality standards for DO or pathogen indicator bacteria. 

*** Elevated bacteria (fecal coliform, Escherichia coli and Enterococcus) and depressed dissolved oxygen concentrations (often 

Dickinson Bayou Special Study

Dickinson Bayou currently does not meet state requirements for aquatic life or contact recreation

According to the 2005 Galveston Bay Indicators Project, the areas of Galveston Bay with the greatest number of TCEQ criteria-level exceedences for fecal coliform bacteria are Buffalo Bayou, the Houston Ship Channel, Clear Creek, and Dickinson Bayou (Figure 5-60).

July 2005

Public Health Issues

Clear Creek and Dickinson Bayou have levels of fecal coliform bacteria that exceed the screening levels used by TCEQ to determine which water bodies need to be listed as impaired for historical use. Both water bodies would be considered a health risk for contact recreation.


Saturday, July 18, 2015


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

Thank you for submitting your comments on this pending permit application. Thank you for submitting your comments on this pending permit application. You will receive an e-mail confirmation of your comments that you can print for your records. 

*If you do not receive an e-mail confirmation within one hour, we HAVE NOT received your comments. If you do not receive confirmation, please be sure to contact the Office of the Chief Clerk immediately at 512-239-3300. Please note, successfully submitting your comments online does not guarantee you filed them timely. 

Sent: Monday, July 27, 2015 9:57 PM 

Subject: TCEQ Confirmation: Your public comment on Permit Number WQ0004086000 was received. 


Sunday, February 28, 2016 

Oral Comments Public Meeting Clean Harbors San Leon, Inc.[8] WQ0004086000 La Marque 14 01/25/16 Dickinson Bayou 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 

Dickinson Bayou: A TMDL Project and Use Assessment for Bacteria Troubled Waters 

Dickinson Bayou: A TMDL Project and Use Assessment for Bacteria 

Dead fish symptom of ailing bayous 

Harvey Rice Updated 2:45 pm, Monday, November 19, 2012 

Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle 

Image 1 of 3 

Steve Hoyland Sr., co-owner of the monthly SeaBreeze News, runs his boat through Dickinson Bayou. Concerned over fish kills, he hired a lab to test the quality of the water. 

SAN LEON - Powering his small boat across Dickinson Bay, Steve Hoyland Sr. worries about fish kills near the mouth of Dickinson Bayou every summer for the last six years. 

"I've lived here my whole life, but in the last two years you can't catch (anything)," said Hoyland, 61, part owner of the monthly San Leon Seabreeze News. 

Hoyland points to the depth finder to show how silt has clogged the mouth of the bayou and prevented the tide from cleansing it with oxygenated water. "We've got a serious problem here," he said. 

Officials charged with overseeing water quality say that fish kills, where thousands of fish die for lack of oxygen in the water, are a symptom of urban encroachment on bayous like Dickinson that lace the Houston region. The urbanized area in the Dickinson Bayou watershed more than doubled between 2002 and 2008.

The 27 miles of Dickinson Bayou that snake through Galveston and Brazoria counties are plagued with low oxygen levels that occasionally kill fish. The bayou is filled with bacteria that can cause illness to swimmers and pollutants such as oil, pesticides, human waste from septic tanks and animal waste washed into the bayou through storm drains. 

Of 139 water bodies in Harris and Galveston counties, 91 have excessive bacteria levels that make them unsafe for human contact, 21 have low dissolved oxygen levels and in 33 the cancer-causing toxic contaminants dioxin and PCB have been found in fish tissue, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The bacteria levels in Buffalo Bayou, for example, are generally higher than Dickinson Bayou and pesticides are found in the tissue of fish there in addition to dioxin and PCB, the TCEQ says.

In Dickinson Bayou, E. coli and enteroccus bacteria levels are more than double the federal standard, said Todd Running, clean rivers program manager for the Houston-Galveston Area Council. The federal standard for E. coli is 126 colonies per 100 milliliters of water, Running said, but the levels in the bayou range from 247 to 1,645. The standard for enteroccus, a bacteria measured in the tidal area of the bayou because of its resistance to saltwater, is 35, he said, but bayou levels range from 373 to 8,485.

Public not aware 

State and local agencies are working on plans to reduce pollution in the bayous, but they take years to complete and rely on the cooperation of a public that is largely unaware that seemingly unimportant things like leaving pet waste in the yard contribute to the thousands of small incidents that add up to tons of pollution washed through storm drains into the bayou. The TCEQ says that the most common sources of bacteria are wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff, septic tank overflows and failures, and broken sewer lines. 

Runoff from residences 

"All of our urban streams have issues and it's a result of more people living in the area, more pipes that are more likely to break, plus it's runoff from our yards and our streets and our parking lots," said Charris York, stormwater projects coordinator for the Texas Coastal Watershed Program. 

Excess yard fertilizer, household chemicals, septic tank leakage and illegal discharges from wastewater treatment plants add to the load of pollutants draining from 106 square miles of Dickinson Bayou watershed. 

There are 11 wastewater treatment plants on Dickinson Bayou. The TCEQ issued its most recent violation notice to KC Utilities in August. The commission fined Meadowland utilities $132,000 in December for seven violations. 

The TCEQ estimates that there are 1,546 failing septic tanks in the Dickinson Bayou watershed. 

Hoyland published several articles calling attention to the poor water quality at the mouth of the bayou. 

He took two experts from Eastex Environmental Laboratory Inc. out on his boat to take water samples at the mouth of Dickinson Bayou and a nearby intake channel cut for the now abandoned Houston Power & Light generating plant that once pulled water from Dickinson Bay for cooling. 

"We found areas of concern with dissolved oxygen levels," said Mark Bourgeois, one of the Eastex analysts who took the samples.

Low oxygen levels are typical during the summer on the sluggishly flowing bayou, said Winston Denton, upper coast assessment team leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The long list of documented fish kills because of low oxygen stretches back to the 1970s when federal clean water laws first required reporting. 

Call for dredging 

Hoyland believes that dredging the mouth of the bayou would allow tidal flows to wash oxygen into the bayou mouth. TCEQ oxygen readings show that on average the bayou's tidal area, unlike the rest of the bayou, meets state oxygen level standards.

Oxygen levels fluctuate, however, and Running said that dredging has improved water quality at the mouth of other bayous, but that there is no guarantee that it would work on Dickinson Bayou. 

The TCEQ and local agencies are developing a plan to reduce the pollution to acceptable levels that likely will combine regulations with voluntary compliance. The plan is being written with the assistance of local businesses, cities and residents. "We have a lot of input from different folks who have knowledge," York said. The plan has been in the works for about two years and the draft is expected to be ready for public review early next year, she said. 

Meanwhile Hoyland continues to write about water quality problems and hopes that a plan to build a new wastewater treatment plant nearby will include dredging the mouth of Dickinson Bayou. "It would be a great thing if they do something good for the environment," he said. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012 

Galveston County BACLIFF TEXAS FLOUNDER FISH KILL MASSIVE AUGUST 11, 2012 (see video of the dead flounder floating) 

Terry Singletary and I have been sampling water from Dickinson Bayou and monitoring continuous fish kills in efforts to get someone to understand the critical condition of this waterway for the past six years. The bayou has a high concentration of fecal matter (human excrement). This is due to an occasional upset in the sewage plants that dump into the bayou, and by old and broken septic tanks along the bayou’s edge. In sampling the dissolved oxygen concentration in the water, we have discovered that the oxygen content is depleted, causing over four miles of a “dead zone” which will not sustain aquatic life. This four mile dead zone is growing at approximately a quarter of a mile every year. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 


Terry S. Singeltary Sr., Bacliff, Texas, USA

on the bottom...Galveston Bay 

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.