Monday, January 27, 2014


EPA Ponders Future Of San Jacinto Waste Pits Superfund Site

The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to make an important decision regarding the San Jacinto Waste Pits. The Superfund site just east of Channelview will either be permanently capped or relocated.
The San Jacinto Waste Pits were a dumping site in the 1960s for toxic sludge from a nearby paper mill.
The Superfund site has partially subsided into the San Jacinto River, and leaking chemicals have spread to the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay.
Jackie Young is with Texans Together, an advocacy group trying to get the waste pits relocated.
"The waste pits contain the absolute worst chemical known to man, dioxin compound commonly known as Agent Orange. They also contain Mercury, PCBs and about 35 other toxic chemicals."
Harris County has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Waste Management and International Paper for mismanagement of the site.
That litigation goes to trial in September.
Meanwhile, construction will begin next week to install a new cap on the pits to stop the leaking.
"We're in a very, very crucial point in the Superfund process. The EPA is going to soon be making their decision on whether or not they're going to let the potentially responsible parties leave the waste pits in the river, capped, or if they're going to require the two responsible parties to remove the waste pits and contain them elsewhere, inland, in a stable, safe environment."
Young says the EPA will hold a community meeting on January 30th at the Highlands Community Center. She says testimony from residents as to the recreational uses of the affected waterways may sway the EPA toward relocating the pits, with a remediation price tag of about $300 million.

Will Monsanto Become The NSA Of Agriculture?
Monsanto is best-known for its controversial use of genetically-modified organisms, and less well-known for being involved in the story of the defoliant Agent Orange (the company's long and involved story is well told in the book and film "The World According to Monsanto", by Marie-Monique Robin.) Its shadow also looms large over the current TPP talks: the USTR's Chief Agricultural Negotiator is Islam A. Siddiqui, a former lobbyist for Monsanto. But it would seem that the company is starting to explore new fields, so to speak; as Salon reports in a fascinating and important post, Monsanto is going digital:
Monsanto spent close to $1 billion to buy the Climate Corporation, a data analytics firm. Last year the chemical and seed company also bought Precision Planting, another high-tech firm, and also launched a venture capital arm geared to fund tech start-ups.
Here's the key shift that is behind that move:
Many farmers have been collecting digitized yield data on their operations since the 1990s, when high-tech farm tools first emerged. But that information would sit on a tractor or monitor until the farmer manually transferred it to his computer, or handed a USB stick to an agronomist to analyze. Now, however, smart devices can wirelessly transfer data straight to a corporation’s servers, sometimes without a farmer's knowledge.

No comments: