waste-pit-warning-signWe’ve probably all heard rumors about them – certain areas around the United States that just seem to exude cancer and other ill-health statistics.

  • Northern New Jersey – dubbed by many residents as “breast cancer central” because of the unusually high rate of that devastating disease.
  • Southern Louisiana – where decades of oil refinery operations along with the catastrophic BP oil spill have played havoc on the health and well-being of that State’s poorest citizens.
  • Texas – like Louisiana, Texas has more than its fair share of concentrated refinery operations, with more and more being planned to come in the following years.

Many believe these areas are actual cancer clusters. Scientists define a cancer cluster as a particular geographical area in which incidents of human cancer statistically exceed the expected norm over a specified period of time.

What could be the common denominator in all the above examples? Refineries. No matter what the giant petro and chemical companies would have us believe, emissions from their many factories find their way into the air, into the soil, into the water supply – and of course – into us.

These toxins read like a “Who’s Who” of the deadliest substances known to man…

  • Dioxin
  • Benzene
  • Sulfuric Acid
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Formaldehyde
  • Mercury
  • Silicon Dust
  • Radioactive Particulates
  • Fluoride (Hydrofluoric Acid & Hydrogen Fluoride)

Making things even worse, the residues that don’t go into the atmosphere have to be collected and buried. Hundreds of thousands of tons of deadly cocktail sludge packed away into “waste pits” and kept out of sight.

Of this you can be absolutely certain, when these poisons are shipped away and buried or incinerated, they aren’t doing this dirty work around the wealthy and affluent. It’s almost always in the backwater, poorest sections of any particular area – where the residents have little to no say on the goings-on in their collective backyards. Usually the last to know, and when they do find out – the damage has long been done.


It was April 6th, 2010. The BP PLC refinery malfunctioned – and for 41 days it spewed forth an estimated 500,000 TONS of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, including a significant amount of the known carcinogen benzene. The giant petro company was found guilty of negligence. However, in a verdict that could only be described as bizarre, these emissions were found not to have measurably or adversely impacted the health of nearby residents.

Of course, benzene exposure can take years or even decades to manifest itself into diseases such as cancer. Years the verdict seemingly didn’t consider worthy of weighty consideration.


An alarming increase in children’s eye and brain-stem cancer had the resident’s alarmed, to say the least. In the 1960’s the Champion Paper Company had a quick way of disposing its toxic wastes. They simply loaded the noxious refuse into barges, then pushed and dumped the stuff into waste pits located in the Highland area.

Time did the rest. The toxins, including significant amounts of dioxin eventually leached out into the environment. It wasn’t until 2005 that the Texas Park & Wildlife Department actually found those pits. For almost 40 years the dioxin laden sludge was slowly, inexorably doing its damage.

How dangerous is dioxin? Besides cancer, here is the short list of what it can do:

  • Miscarriages and birth defects
  • Decreased fertility in women and men
  • Reduced sperm counts
  • Diabetes
  • Immune system suppressor
  • Lung & pulmonary problems
  • Skin disorders
  • Hormone disruptors

And what do the authorities now say about all this? They conduct studies. They do tests. They have town meetings. They say “cancer cluster” evidence is inconclusive. In other words, they do what they do best – talk and delay.


Former Governor Rick Scott, who during his last presidential bid didn’t have much to say about China, is now heavily involved in having the world’s largest methanol refining plant located in Texas City – a refinery backed by Chinese politician-entrepreneurs.

While methanol may sound benign, the facts say differently. The CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – lists methanol as a toxic substance. Highly flammable, it can find its way into sewers – creating a risk of explosions. What it can do to the human body isn’t much better:

  • Blindness or loss of vision
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver malfunction
  • Nervous system damage
  • Seizures

While not as toxic as gasoline production, the seven million tons a year planned methanol production at Shoal Point poses a distinct health risk for local residents.

This Galveston area is already notorious for its high cancer rates.

So where will the new poisonous residues be stored or shipped? That remains to be seen.


Developers are currently required to put a printed notification about the proposed site where a particular project is slated to operate. However, as in the case of Shoal Point, for the average citizen just getting to those grounds is a problem. (It’s like sticking a sign in a swamp warning “beware of alligators.” You’ll never see it until it’s too late.)

Also, by law all companies must submit environmental reports to the federal EPA (Department of Environmental Quality) and other state agencies. However, more and more these reports go on the “honor” system. There are few secondary checks on the reports themselves.

In most cases, the only way to tell when a company runs afoul of the regulations is after the fact. Add to this the companies breaching the regulations are supposed to report the transgressions themselves. How many of them would willingly turn themselves in? The world unfortunately doesn’t work that way.

Now mix in the power of huge corporations, the wheeling and dealing of ambitious politicians, and the lax oversight of governmental agencies – and those injured by cancer clusters, waste pits and environmental toxins have few advocates they can rely upon.


If you think you or your family may have been exposed to highly carcinogenic wastes, or are living close by a known heavy industry waste pit and are experiencing health problems, it is highly advisable to consult with an attorney specializing in medical malpractice litigation. Terry Bryant in Houston has been an advocate for helping Texas residents for 30 years in achieving just compensation and justice for their rightful legal claims.