You may not know it but one of the worst toxic waste sites in the country is right here in Houston.
The San Jacinto River Waste Pits are actually driven over by thousands of Houston commuters each day as they drive over the San Jacinto River on I-10. The site was created in the 1960s as a dump site for chemicals used to make paper. Those chemicals contained high levels of dioxins, which are considered the most toxic chemicals known to man.
The Superfund site is in bad shape as well. The shallow pits dug to hold the waste have sunk and are now partially submerged in water and are carried away by the San Jacinto River. The site has all ready been found to be the source of dioxins found in Galveston Bay.
Environmental Geologist Jackie Young with Texans Together says the location of this waste pit is just about the worst you could pick, "There isn't a more vulnerable place in the entire United States that these toxic waste pits could possibly be located."
The risk from the sites is mainly to residential areas around the site. Those residential areas are expected to double in the next 25 years. Also at risk is the Lynchburg Reservoir which is only a half mile from the site.
Currently, Harris County is suing the owners of the site, Waste Management and International Paper for hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties.
The other concern is from weather. The caps on the pits, which are essentially tarps and rocks, will not protect the waste from flooding waters, or storm surge from a hurricane. The waste would permeate both upstream and downstream and get into the water table.
Young says the only real solution is to remove the waste altogether. A process that could cost Waste Management and International Paper, billions.