A bathymetric survey of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits indicates that the site was not impacted by the 18-wheeler that plunged into the river on June 27. 

With Environmental Protection Agency oversight, contractors inspected the armored cap over the waste pits this week. 

Contractors used a single-beam sensory survey device similar to a fish locator some fishermen use, which created a map of the river bottom and submerged portions of the armored cap, according to Jennah Durant, EPA spokeswoman. 

“A comparison to the previous survey conducted in April 2019 demonstrates the armored cap remains in place and was not affected by the impact of the accident,” Durant said. “The survey was conducted by the responsible parties under the EPA’s direction and followed the established site monitoring plan. Survey 

activities will continue as part of the planned quarterly survey of the site.”

Jacquelyn Young, executive director of Texas Health and Environment Alliance, said she would feel more comfortable if a physical inspection was also conducted. 

“I am glad to see the bathymetric survey completed, but I don’t have 100% confidence that it would catch every change in elevation,” Young said. “We’ve seen bathymetric surveys at this site before miss 22-feet by 25-feet changes in elevation. Because of this, I would like to see a physical inspection done as well.”  

EPA officials said it would inspect the site again as part of the planned quarterly survey, which includes visual inspections of the armored cap, fencing, signage, buoys and security cameras.  

The EPA is working on a remedial plan for the waste pits, which are a set of impoundments located at the intersection of Interstate 10 bridge and the San Jacinto River that contain high concentrations of dioxin, that would remove 212,000 cubic yards of toxic material from the site. 

The corporations responsible for the waste pits and the EPA have currently working on the remedial design, scheduled to be completed by September 2020. 

After the two parties finish the second phase of the pre-design investigation, they will work on the remedial design for the southern and northern impoundments and will take 299 days and 275 days to complete respectively. 

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