Local Fishermen Fear Toxic Waste in San Jacinto River, According to The Tammy Tran Law Firm LLP and Co-Counsel
HOUSTON, Oct. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Alarmed by continued fishing near toxic waste pits leaking into the San Jacinto River, leaders of the Houston-area Vietnamese-American fishing community are taking the alleged polluters to court.
The 200 fishermen pursuing civil litigation in state district court in Houston say four companies allegedly responsible for the submerged, riverside waste disposal ponds near Interstate 10 and the San Jacinto River should pay for medical monitoring of people exposed to the waste and other damages.
The waste ponds opened in 1965 at the Pasadena, Texas paper mill site allegedly failed to contain and continue to leak dioxin, a toxic byproduct of paper mill production. The chemical is linked to serious skin disease, liver damage, and glucose metabolism and hormonal risks.
Texas State Agencies indicate that fish and shellfish tissue samples from the San Jacinto River and other areas contain unusually high dioxin concentrations and issued a consumption advisory for crab and all species of fish from the area of the river near the site.
Texas Parks & Wildlife game wardens recently confirmed continuing public fishing near the waste site and the harvesting of seafood for sale and the agency lacks manpower to warn subsistence fishermen and others from catching and consuming dioxin-contaminated fish.
The defendants are International Paper Company, McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corp., Waste Management Inc., and Waste Management of Texas, Inc. They are accused of negligence, nuisance, and civil conspiracy causing economic loss. Filed Oct. 12, the case is Dao Van Pho , et al., v. International Paper Company, et al., Cause No. 2012-58016 in the 151st District Court of Harris County, Texas.
"Enough is enough," said fisherman plaintiff Cuong Kim . "We want these companies to take responsibility for what they have done and are still doing and better inform the public of the health risks and environmental damage. This is an ecological disaster."
According to the petition, "Despite the fish advisories, the science, and the great weight of evidence of human health and ecological risks, Defendants have taken the position that there are 'minimal health effects from dioxin' and that 'dioxin is not bad for human consumption.'"
The fishermen are represented by Tammy Tran , Pete Mai , and John Na , of The Tammy Tran Law Firm, LLP, of Houston; Tom W. Thornhill , of Thornhill Law Firm, PLC; J. Marcus "Marc" Hill, of Hill & Hill P.C. Law Firm, of Houston; and Ba Nguyen, of Levinthal Wilkins & Nguyen PLLC, of Houston.
Tammy Tran , of The Tammy Tran Law Firm said, "The Texas Department of Health has issued fish and shellfish consumption advisories and bans in San Jacinto River, Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay. It warned women who are nursing, pregnant who may become pregnant, and children under 12 not to consume any fish or blue crab in the areas. But unfortunately, too few people were made aware of these bans. Like Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan , I am very concerned that dioxin-laden seafood is finding its way to local dinner tables. Public health is at risk. So is the livelihood of our area fishermen, oysters, crabbers, and seafood providers."
In December 2011, Harris County sued the defendants, seeking to recover civil penalties. The Pho, et al.lawsuit seeks monetary relief under state law and does not seek or challenge any cleanup, removal, or remedial action dictated by federal law, and it does not assert any federal law claims.
The fishermen and their legal team planned to meet today with Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan and state and federal agencies to discuss the County's pending litigation related to the waste site and the County's recent request for a quick trial.
Attorney Contact: Tammy Tran , The Tammy Tran Law Firm, Houston, 713-655-0737, www.tammytranlaw.com.
SOURCE The Tammy Tran Law Firm, LLP
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