The flooding of Superfund sites in and around Houston caused by Harvey has raised concerns about whether floodwaters had also washed in pollution from the sites, reports the AP, which visited several highly toxic waste sites in and around Houston. All had been inundated with water, in some cases many feet deep. On Saturday, hours after the AP published its first report, the EPA said it had reviewed aerial imagery confirming that 13 of the 41 Superfund sites in Texas were flooded by Harvey and were "experiencing possible damage" due to the storm. The agency has only been able to physically inspect two of those sites, reports the Houston Chronicle.
The EPA statement says most of the sites have "not been accessible by response personnel." The AP used a boat to visit one site, and accessed others with a vehicle or on foot. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he wants EPA "in town to address the situation." Turner says he didn't know about the potential environmental concerns soon enough to discuss them with President Trump during the president's visit. More than a dozen Superfund sites are in the Houston metro area, which has long been a center of the petrochemical industry. Among the Superfund sites completely flooded are the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, the site of a 1960s paper mill. Soil there is contaminated with dioxins—toxic chemicals linked to birth defects and cancer. (Read more Superfund stories.)