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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Evidence of spills at toxic site during floods

    AP Exclusive: Evidence of spills at toxic site during floods


    HOGP
    This handout aerial photo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows floodwaters surrounding the U.S. Oil Recovery Superfund site outside Houston flowing into the San Jacinto River. The Environmental Protection Agency says it has found no evidence that toxins washed off the site, but is still assessing damage. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via AP)




    Posted: Monday, September 18, 2017 2:27 pm |Updated: 2:49 pm, Mon Sep 18, 2017.
    Associated Press |

    PASADENA, Texas (AP) — The U.S. government received reports of three spills at one of Houston's dirtiest Superfund toxic waste sites in the days after the drenching rains from Hurricane Harvey finally stopped. Aerial photos reviewed by The Associated Press show dark-colored water surrounding the site as the floods receded, flowing through Vince Bayou and into a ship channel.

    The reported spills, which have been not publicly detailed, occurred at U.S. Oil Recovery, a former petroleum industry waste processing plant contaminated with a dangerous brew of cancer-causing chemicals. On Aug. 29, the day Harvey's rains stopped, a county pollution control team sent photos to the Environmental Protection Agency of three large concrete tanks flooded with water. That led PRP Group, the company overseeing the ongoing cleanup, to call a federal emergency hotline to report a spill affecting nearby Vince Bayou.

    Over the next several days, the company reported two more spills of potentially contaminated storm water from U.S. Oil Recovery, according to reports and call logs obtained by the AP from the U.S. Coast Guard, which operates the National Response Center hotline. The EPA requires that spills of oil or hazardous substances in quantities that may be harmful to public health or the environment be immediately reported to the 24-hour hotline when public waterways are threatened.


    The EPA has not publicly acknowledged the three spills that PRP Group reported to the Coast Guard. The agency said an on-scene coordinator was at the site last Wednesday and found no evidence that material had washed off the site. The EPA says it is still assessing the scene.


    The AP reported in the days after Harvey that at least seven Superfund sites in and around Houston were underwater during the record-shattering storm. Journalists surveyed the sites by boat, vehicle and on foot. U.S. Oil Recovery was not one of the sites visited by AP. EPA said at the time that its personnel had been unable to reach the sites, though they surveyed the locations using aerial photos.


    Following AP's report, EPA has been highlighting the federal agency's response to the flooding at Superfund sites. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reiterated that safeguarding the intensely-polluted sites is among his top priorities during a visit Friday to the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, one of the sites AP reported about two weeks ago.


    Pruitt then boarded a Coast Guard aircraft for an aerial tour of other nearby Superfund sites flooded by Harvey, including U.S. Oil Recovery.


    Photos taken Aug. 31 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows dark-colored water surrounding the site two days after the first spill was reported to the government hotline. While the photos do not prove contaminated materials leaked from U.S. Oil Recovery, they do show that as the murky floodwaters receded, they flowed through Vince Bayou and emptied into a ship channel that leads to the San Jacinto River. The hotline caller identified Vince Bayou as the waterway affected by a spill of unknown material in unknown amounts.

    Thomas Voltaggio, a retired EPA official who oversaw Superfund cleanups and emergency responses for more than two decades, reviewed the aerial photos, hotline reports and other documents obtained by AP.

    "It is intuitively obvious that the rains and floods of the magnitude that occurred during Hurricane Harvey would have resulted in some level of contamination having been released to the environment," said Voltaggio, who is now a private consultant. "Any contamination in those tanks would likely have entered Vince Bayou and potentially the Houston Ship Channel."


    He said the amount of contaminants spread from the site during the storm will likely never be known, making the environmental impact difficult to measure. The Houston Ship Channel was already a polluted waterway, with Texas state health officials warning that women of childbearing age and children should not eat fish or crabs caught there because of contamination from dioxins and PCBs.


    PRP Group, the corporation formed to oversee the cleanup at U.S. Oil Recovery, said it reported the spills as legally required but said subsequent testing of storm water remaining in the affected tanks showed it met federal drinking water standards. The company declined to provide AP copies of those lab reports or a list of specific chemicals for which it tested, saying the EPA was expected to release that information soon.


    U.S. Oil Recovery was shut down in 2010 after regulators determined operations there posed an environmental threat to Vince Bayou, which flows through the property in Pasadena. Pollution at the former hazardous waste treatment plant is so bad that Texas prosecutors charged the company's owner, Klaus Genssler, with five criminal felonies. The German native fled the United States and is considered a fugitive. Genssler did not respond to efforts to contact him last week through his social media accounts or an email account linked to his website address.


    More than 100 companies that sent hazardous materials and oily waste to U.S. Oil Recovery for processing are now paying for the multimillion-dollar cleanup there through a court-monitored settlement, including Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations Inc., U.S. Steel Corp. and Dow Chemical Co.


    Past sampling of materials at the site revealed high concentrations of hazardous chemicals linked to cancer, such as benzene, ethylbenzene and trichloroethylene. The site also potentially contains toxic heavy metals, including mercury and arsenic.


    A 2012 EPA study of the more than 500 Superfund sites across the United States located in flood zones specifically noted the risk that floodwaters might carry away and spread toxic materials over a wider area.


    Over the past six years, remediation efforts at U.S. Oil Recovery have focused on the northern half of the site, including demolishing contaminated structures, removing an estimated 500 tons of sludge and hauling away more than 1,000 abandoned containers of waste.


    PRP Group said the southern portion of the site, including the three waste tanks that flooded during Harvey, has not yet been fully cleaned. Over the years workers have removed more than 1.5 million gallons of liquid waste — enough to fill nearly three Olympic-sized swimming pools.


    AP began asking the EPA whether contaminated material might have again leaked from U.S. Oil Recovery last week, after reviewing the aerial photos taken Aug. 31. The EPA said it visited the site on Sept. 4, nearly a week after site operators reported an initial spill, and again the following week. The EPA said that its staff saw no evidence that toxins had washed away from the scene during either visit.


    "Yesterday, an EPA On-scene coordinator conducted an inspection of Vince Bayou to follow up on a rumor that material was offsite and did not find any evidence of a black oily discharge or material from the U.S. Oil Recovery site," an EPA media release said on Thursday.


    PRP Group said the spills occurred at the toxic waste site on Aug. 29, Sept. 6 and Sept. 7. One of the EPA's media releases on Sept. 9, more than 11 days after the first call was made to the hotline, made reference to overflowing water at the scene, but did not describe it as a spill.


    The company said it reported the first spill after Harvey's floodwaters swamped the three tanks, filling them. The resulting pressure that built up in the tanks dislodged plugs blocking a series of interconnecting pipes, causing the second and third spills reported to the hotline the following week.


    The company does not know how much material leaked from the tanks, soaking into the soil or flowing into nearby Vince Bayou. As part of its post-storm cleanup workers have vacuumed 63 truckloads holding about 315,000 gallons from the tanks.


    The Superfund site is located just a few hundred yards from the Pollution Control Services offices for Harris County, which includes Houston. Its director, Bob Allen, says his team took pictures of the flooding on Aug. 29, when the area that includes the three big tanks was still underwater. Allen said his staff did not note any black water or oily sheen on the surface at the time.


    "We knew that the water probably got into the plant, probably washed out some of the stuff that was in the clarifier," Allen said, referring to one of the old concrete tanks once used to store toxic waste. Allen's team did not collect samples Aug. 29. He said the EPA later sampled the area to determine whether there was contamination.


    "Once they get done with the assessment of that site and the other Superfund Harris County sites, then they'll probably let us know, let the public know, what's been going on," Allen said.

    http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/new...2748dc795.html

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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Disgraceful - how these companies leave their toxic debri and get away with it.
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  4. #4
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    Shrimp boats sunk by Harvey leaking fuel oil in Texas harbor

    Posted: Sep 19, 2017 2:18 PM PDT
    Updated: Sep 19, 2017 2:18 PM PDT


    ARANSAS PASS, Texas (AP) - Fuel oil has been leaking from shrimp trawlers that sank in the Aransas Pass harbor during Hurricane Harvey.

    That has prompted the Aransas Pass harbor master to close the boat launch at Redfish Bay Boat House until the vessels can be salvaged and the oil spill cleaned up.


    Harbor Master Chuck West tells the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that five of the nine sunken vessels, but two of the four remaining vessels are responsible for the leaks. West says the two leaking vessels aren't insured.


    Crews from the Texas General Land Office have surrounded the leaking vessels with booms in an effort to contain the spill and are bringing in a crane to remove the uninsured vessels.


    West said it's unclear when the launch might resume.


    Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, http://www.caller.com

    http://www.krgv.com/story/36405264/s...n-texas-harbor

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    EPA removes waste at Texas toxic sites, won't say from where


    Pablo Martinez Monsivais
    In this Sept. 21, 2017, photo, a sign on a door of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington. The EPA says it has recovered 517 containers of “unidentified, potentially hazardous material” from highly contaminated toxic waste sites in Texas that flooded last month during Hurricane Harvey. But the agency has not provided details about which Superfund sites the material came from, why the contaminants at issue have not been identified and whether there’s a threat to human health. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    Posted: Saturday, September 23, 2017 9:40 pm |Updated: 10:05 pm, Sat Sep 23, 2017.
    Associated Press |

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency says it has recovered 517 containers of "unidentified, potentially hazardous material" from highly contaminated toxic waste sites in Texas that flooded last month during Hurricane Harvey.

    The agency has not provided details about which Superfund sites the material came from, why the contaminants at issue have not been identified and whether there's a threat to human health.

    The one-sentence disclosure about the 517 containers was made Friday night deep within a media release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency summarizing the government's response to the devastating storm.


    At least a dozen Superfund sites in and around Houston were flooded in the days after Harvey's record-shattering rains stopped. Associated Press journalists surveyed seven of the flooded sites by boat, vehicle and on foot. The EPA said at the time that its personnel had been unable to reach the sites, though they surveyed the locations using aerial photos.


    The Associated Press reported Monday that a government hotline also received calls about three spills at the U.S. Oil Recovery Superfund site, a former petroleum waste processing plant outside Houston contaminated with a dangerous brew of cancer-causing chemicals. Records obtained by the AP showed workers at the site reported spills of unknown materials in unknown amounts.


    Local pollution control officials photographed three large tanks used to store potentially hazardous waste completely underwater on Aug. 29. The EPA later said there was no evidence that nearby Vince Bayou had been impacted.

    PRP Group, the company formed to clean up the U.S. Oil Recovery site, said it does not know how much material leaked from the tanks, soaking into the soil or flowing into the bayou. As part of the post-storm cleanup, workers have vacuumed up 63 truckloads of potentially contaminated storm water, totaling about 315,000 gallons.

    It was not immediately clear whether those truckloads accounted for any of the 517 containers cited in the FEMA media release on Friday. The EPA has not responded to questions from AP about activities at U.S. Oil Recovery for more than a week.


    About a dozen miles east, the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund site is on and around a low-lying island that was the site of a paper mill in the 1960s, leaving behind dangerous levels of dioxins and other long-lasting toxins linked to birth defects and cancer. The site was completely covered with floodwaters when the AP surveyed it on Sept. 1.


    To prevent contaminated soil and sediments from being washed down river, about 16 acres of the site was covered in 2011 with an "armored cap" of fabric and rock. The cap was reportedly designed to last for up to 100 years, but it has required extensive repairs on at least six occasions in recent years, with large sections becoming displaced or having been washed away.


    The EPA has not responded to repeated inquiries over the past two weeks about whether its assessment has determined whether the cap was similarly damaged during Harvey.


    The companies responsible for cleaning up the site, Waste Management Inc. and International Paper, have said there were "a small number of areas where the current layer of armored cap is thinner than required."


    "There was no evidence of a release from any of these areas," the companies said, adding that sediments there were sampled last week.


    The EPA has not yet released those test results to the public.

    http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/lif...043d0b6f7.html

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    People need to realize when you eat the seafood from the Gulf area, you are ingesting the cancer causing toxics. All the more reason to avoid pollution that warms waters producing more violent hurricanes and rising waters. All the more reason to have a VIABLE EPA - not a corrupt or non-science based agency. It is integral for the health and safety of Americans and those living by any waters. To be in denial @ that is absurdity. Add oil spills to that. More drilling is criminal neglect endangering our health.
    Last edited by artist; 09-28-2017 at 09:45 AM.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Dioxin dump leaking after hammered by Harvey
    By: Greg Groogan

    POSTED: SEP 29 2017 07:40PM CDT
    VIDEO POSTED: SEP 29 2017 07:33PM CDT



    In a neighborhood not far from the San Jacinto River, the sheer force of Harvey-driven flooding is still on display, including a recreational vehicle picked up and left perched on a tree and a mobile home carried off its pad by the swift moving current.

    Destruction is everywhere. It was the same water which slammed over the Superfund Site where 15,000 truckloads of Dioxin waste have been stored for half a century.


    Residents like Greg Moss believe the toxin was likely lifted and left in yards and homes.


    "It tells me it's time to dig those pits out and get rid of them and protect the public health," said Moss.
    Less than half a mile from the waste pits is another example of what the flooding San Jacinto River left behind, specifically, a hole where a house once sat. The structure is simply gone.

    It took a few weeks and the work of a dive team, but the Environmental Protection Agency has now confirmed what many had feared -- that traces of Dioxin more than two thousand times what scientists consider safe were detected in sediment outside the dump after the flood.


    "This is a very real and serious situation," said activist Jackie Young of the Texas Health and Environment Alliance. "These contaminants are dangerous."


    Young also said the latest post-flood tests offer further alarming proof that tons of cancer-causing waste cannot be contained safely on and beneath a volatile river.


    "We need the companies responsible for this site and anonymous groups who support containment to stop fighting -- stop fighting the EPA, stop fighting the community and do the right thing and take the waste out of the river," added Young.


    Moss said is convinced the pits have claimed many lives already and will cause more cancer unless something is done.


    "You've got seven-year olds that are dying," added Moss. "You've got twenty-year olds that are dying.

    You've got 25-year olds that are dying and they should be living a good happy, healthy life."


    Advocates of leaving the Dioxin where it is entombed in a permanent structure have suggested that the "temporary cap" held up pretty well through the storm. But the EPA discovery of leaked Dioxin renders that claim insupportable.


    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will deliver his final decision on the dump's future by Oct. 14.

    http://www.fox26houston.com/news/har...ered-by-harvey


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    "You've got seven-year olds that are dying," added Moss. "You've got twenty-year olds that are dying.

    You've got 25-year olds that are dying and they should be living a good happy, healthy life."
    Unfortunately, you only hear @ this when a local is interviewed otherwise one would have to check stats on reported cancers by area. Same with fracking - "oh it is safe", "let the industry regulate themselves", "remove their regulations". Bull, check the asthma rates and down the road when it is too late, check the cancer rates.

    The fracking industry in Pennsylvania actually forbade medical doctors to inform patients if cancer causing fracking chems were in their blood. The Pa epa was controlled by the industry also and never reported any calls of health complaints which were numerous - in the waste can for them.

    EPA inspectors were not allowed on sites, legislators were called telling them to keep them away. Hmmm... wonder why. The industry runs roughshod and is rife with manipulation of politicians/epa and is a disaster to the health of citizens nearby or down stream. No jobs for Pennsylvanians acquired for this either, they bring their own workers and they get busy turning rural young girls into drug addicts/prostitutes.
    Last edited by artist; 10-01-2017 at 06:26 PM.

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