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  • Writer's picturePhil Griffis

Harris County Sues Over San Jacinto River Pollution

“The citizens of Harris County no longer feel secure while swimming in the San Jacinto River. The citizens of Harris County no longer trust that the fish they catch from the San Jacinto River are safe to eat. The citizens of Harris County can no longer enjoy camping, picnicking or eating fish or blue crabs in the San Jacinto River free from fear”.

So begins Harris County’s petition in a lawsuit just filed against International Paper Company, McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corporation, Waste Management, Inc. and Waste Management of Texas, Inc.  The County claims that the defendants “allowed 2, 3, 7, 8-TCDD, a type of dioxin widely regarded as the most toxic chemical ever made by man-and other types of dioxin to continuously pollute the San Jacinto River for over 45 years”.

The suit notes that the State of Texas has issued a consumption advisory for crab and all species of fish from the river area. The County alleges that the defendants have taken the position that there are “minimal health effects from dioxin” and that “dioxin is not bad for human consumption”.

The petition sets out the county’s allegations of the history of the pollution, dating back to 1965, and notes that in 2008 the San Jacinto River Site was placed on the National Priority List for Superfund Sites.The suit claims money damages for the alleged “taking” of the river from the Harris County citizens. It claims civil penalties for violations of the Texas Water Code and the Texas Health and Safety Code. The petition does not state how much money the County is seeking. None of the defendants have yet answered.


Phil Griffis obtained his first jury verdict in 1990, when he convinced a jury that a customer’s fall at his client’s store did not cause the customer’s aspiration pneumonia and stroke. In the years since he has continued to win in courtrooms across the State of Texas.

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