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The San Jacinto Wastepits

Border of San Jacinto Waste PitsIn 2010, Texans Together headed up a canvassing effort in the Highlands, Baytown and Channelview area.  The purpose of the canvass was to  inform residents of the high levels of dioxin in the area that borders the San Jacinto Waste pits, an Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) designated superfund site, in the San Jacinto river.   According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences,  dioxins are the most toxic man made chemical contaminant and humans are primarily exposed to dioxins by eating food contaminated by these chemicals. 

Forty years ago, the San Jacinto waste pit was the site where Champion Paper Mill dumped its waste.  The waste was a dioxin, mostly a by-product of the paper bleaching process, and has been continually seeping into the Houston ship channel and Galveston bay and poisoning the fish in the water as well as harming the health of the people who consume the fish.Residents of the area have been using the river for years for sustenance fishing and other recreational activities. Some of them consume fish from the river on a weekly basis unaware of the potentially dangerous health effects exposure produces and, in someunaware of the existence of the waste pits.

"I would love to be able to use the river to fish and swim but I have heard stories about people getting sick from it.  Even worse is that a lot of the kids don't know about the dangers.  Whoever is responsible for this needs to do something about it," said Baytown area resident, Michael Ocampos.

Michael Ocampos, a Baytown resident, with canvasser Joseph OzmentToday, Texans Together is nearing the end of a second canvassing effort that has been ongoing for the past five weeks.  We are still sharing information about the dangers of the dioxin in the river and engaging residents to take a part in the enormous effort that is necessary to make sure that the superfund site is cleaned.   We are also petitioning the residents with the hopes of collecting enough signatures to present to elected officials and request additional testing for the presence of dioxins in the fish, soil and human tissue.  For more information on our outreach efforts in that area please contact Michael Ruger at mwruger@texanstogether.org

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