A July 4, 1837, advertisement for a settlement along the banks of the
San Jacinto River praises a "high, beautiful and undulating district of
country, distinguished for health, good water and soil." Almost two
centuries have passed since that ad. With the growth in population,
Texans should expect our rivers to be used for such activites as
recreation, fishing and transportation. We should not expect our rivers
to be poisoned.
In the mid-1960s, Champion Paper
(now merged with International Paper) contracted with a company (now
owned by the Waste Management family of companies) to dispose of toxic
waste from a paper mill. As Chronicle editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson
explained in his two-part series, "The San Jacinto River: In Peril"
(Page B12, June 8 and Page B12, June 15) someone had a terrible idea and
stored the waste, contaminated with dioxin, in three shallow pits
adjacent to the San Jacinto River.
Fast forward: In 2008, the San
Jacinto Waste Pits were placed on the National Priorities List of
Superfund Sites due to the high level of dioxin contamination detected
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
studies have shown that exposure to dioxins at high enough levels may
cause a number of adverse health effects, including cancer. Harris
County and, separately,
a group of fishermen in Galveston County have filed suit against the
originating companies and their successors. "Dioxin has already spread
to Galveston Bay. It's pervasive. It's everywhere," according to Special
Assistant Harris Country Attorney Terry O'Rourke.
READ MORE: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Enduring-solution-now-5585761.php