Opposition to removing a major toxic waste site along the San Jacinto River in Texas was funded in part by Waste Management, a national comprehensive waste company which has been ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pay up to $115 million to clean up the site.
Court documents obtained by Houston’s FOX 26 show that Waste Management worked with citizen groups opposing removal of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, which currently hold about half a billion pounds of Dioxin waste. Dioxin is a toxic compound linked to cancer and other health risks.
The documents showed that Waste Management and its subsidiary, McGinnes Industrial Management Corporation, bankrolled citizen groups opposing removing the toxic waste and instead opting for containment. The documents also showed the company was involved with a group called “Keep It Capped,” as well as the Galveston Maritime Business Association (GMBA).
GMBA President J.T. Edwards confirmed to Fox26 that it had received funding that came from Waste Management. The group had been vocally against the EPA's decision to clean up the Waste Pits.
“A donor who we thought was using their own money was really coming from Waste Management; that’s what we learned just recently,” Edwards told FOX26.
A Waste Management spokesperson told FOX26 that the connection with the community groups was for community outreach, saying in a statement, “The companies do not believe that the community outreach efforts are relevant to the personal injury or property claims involved in the pending litigation.”
The EPA in October handed down a rare victory to environmentalists, ordering Waste Management's parent company and International Paper to excavate 212,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment at the San Jacinto River site.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has made cleaning up Superfund sites a focus of his tenure even while the Trump administration works to cut funding and diminish positions at the agency.