WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has handed a rare victory to environmentalists, ordering two big corporations this week to pay $115 million to clean up a Texas toxic waste site that may have spread dangerous levels of pollution during flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a directive Wednesday requiring International Paper and McGinnis Industrial Maintenance Corp., a subsidiary of Waste Management Inc., to excavate 212,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments from the San Jacinto River Waste Pits.
Pruitt visited the Superfund site outside Houston last month following historic rains and flooding from the storm, meeting with local environmental activists who had campaigned for years for approval of a cleanup plan.
Pruitt has said cleaning Superfund sites is among his top priorities, even as he has worked to delay and rollback a wide array of environmental regulations that would reduce air and water pollution. Often Pruitt has done so directly at the behest of industries that petitioned him for relief from what they characterize as overly burdensome and costly regulations.
At the waste pits, both companies opposed the expensive cleanup, arguing that a fabric and stone cap covering the 16-acre site was sufficient. The former site of a demolished paper mill that operated in the 1960s, the island in the middle of the San Jacinto River is heavily contaminated with dioxins — chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects.
“International Paper respectfully disagrees with the decision by the EPA,” said Tom Ryan, a spokesman for International Paper. He said removing the existing protective cap “could result in significant damage to public health and the local environment.”
Pruitt’s decision triggers the beginning of what could be months of negotiations between EPA and the two companies to reach a final settlement. If the companies refuse to comply with Pruitt’s order, EPA could sue in …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – Politics