Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Residents washed away by Harvey wait for answers about waste pit pollution

Hundreds of families in riverfront neighborhoods east of Houston fear that massive flooding has poisoned their land and fouled their wells with sewage, industrial pollution and toxic sediment from the region's most notorious Superfund site - the San Jacinto Waste pits.
The San Jacinto River floods unleashed by the remnants of Hurricane Harvey created a wall of water that smashed into nearly dozens of homes in the Channelview riverfront neighborhood next to the pits and demolished two low-lying subdivisions in Highlands.
Some Channelview river bottom homes washed away entirely. Others lost their roofs and were pushed off foundations. A few ruins now teeter on the brink of sink holes that now pockmark the neighborhood, called San Jacinto River Estates, that's built around a county park and a private marina.
Linda Bonner, 71, shuffles in black tennis shoes through the silt to a jagged hole where her front porch, dining room and bedroom used to be. Bonner bought her place in 1978 - unaware of old paper mill dump sites on the riverbanks behind it - and raised seven children here. She rebuilt after the 1994 floods and again after Hurricane Ike, but says Harvey "was the worst."
Her home now slants, half in and half out of a sandy6-foot deep hole. It's stuck, which is much the same that Bonner has felt since 2008, when the federal government first declared the waste pits worthy of national Superfund status because of the cancer-causing dioxins and other poisons they contain.
"The Superfund site sits not a mile from here, but if you don't have anywhere to go what do you do? You live with it," she said. "But now I'm done. … And when I leave, I'm going to throw away these shoes too."

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