Harris County attorney Vince Ryan announced he's suing a collection of companies for 45 years' worth of pollution in the San Jacinto River, and he's asking for up to $25,000 a day in penalties.
Ryan is suing International Paper Company, Waste Management, Inc., Waste Management of Texas, Inc. and McGinnis Industrial Maintenance Corporation over the disposal pits near the I-10 crossing of the river.
"When I took office, I asked community residents and leaders to name one thing I could do to improve the environment in Harris County," Ryan said. "Cleaning up the San Jacinto River Waste Pits was, without a doubt, the thing almost everyone agreed upon."
According to Ryan's office:
The County's lawsuit contends that in 1965 a Waste Management company disposed of highly toxic waste from International Paper's nearby paper mill into waste pits located on the shores of the San Jacinto River. The toxic contents of these pits leaked into the River for decades. The companies eventually abandoned the waste pits, and over the years portions of them became submerged below the San Jacinto River.
The San Jacinto River site is now on the Superfund list. The state has advised against eating fish from the river or camping near the pits.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.