Update: The Liberty County Commissioners Court held a Special Meeting to address the proposed controversial dredge spoil dumping site in Devers. Several concerned citizens spoke to the commissioners about their opposition to the dumping of potentially toxic material in an area that could pose a danger to residential water sources. Drone footage of the site where the dredge spoil would be dumped showed a water-soaked ground after only a half-inch of rain was presented to the Commissioners Court. A resolution was passed by the Commissioners Court to oppose the letter of permission applied for in the permit application with the US Army Corps of Engineers.
--Social media exploded over the weekend as residents of Devers and Liberty County discovered proposals to dump sludge from a San Jacinto River project site located in a 5-acre tract of land down Gates Road near Devers in Liberty County.
Holtmar Land LLC filed a Letter of Permission with the US Army Corps of Engineers on March 4, seeking permission to dredge approximately 15,000 cubic yards of material from a 2.50-acre area of the San Jacinto River. The dredged material will then be transported to the upland tract lined with a geosynthetic clay liner.
According to the Army Corps of Engineers the materials that are being proposed to have onsite are not toxic.
Multiple concerned citizens contacted the media to voice their concerns over the potential dumping site due to fear of potential side effects of any toxic materials leaking into the groundwater.
Devers Mayor Steve Horelica also took to the streets to protect the citizens, sending out letters and informing the media and county leadership.
“The USACE is not required to notify the City of Devers or Liberty County—we only found out because a resident of Channelview called me last Friday. Today I spoke to the project manager for the USAEC handling the application. We have until Friday, March 19 at 5pm to email our opposition regarding this application,” said Horelica. He is encouraging anyone with concerns to write a letter to Brian Bader at the USAEC and email it with the reference number SWG-2015-00855 to CESWGRegulatoryInbox@usace.army.mil and email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Horelica has example letters on his Facebook page and can be reached at email@example.com.
Citizens are praising the Devers mayor for his swift response and his handling of the situation.
It has also been reported that Representative Ernest Bailes is drafting and signing on to two letters opposing the site, one with Representative Mayes Middleton and another with Senator Robert Nichols.
The San Jacinto River is well known for its toxic waste pits, a part of the EPA’s Superfund program. The pits contain dioxins which are chemicals known to cause cancer. During Hurricane Harvey, the waste pits flooded and leaked toxic material into the river. This adds to the concerns of Liberty County due to the area’s potential for flooding. Many are worried about a new dumping site in Devers flooding and leaking hazardous waste into water systems and drinking supplies.
Liberty County Judge Jay Knight has called a Special Session of the Liberty County Commissioners Court to address the situation. On Friday, March 19, 2021, the session will take place at 11:3oam at the Liberty County Courthouse in the Second Floor Courtroom.