Cleaning up the San Jacinto River toxic waste pits in Harris County, Texas, may now take three times as long as previously estimated, according to initial design documents, reports Houston Public Media.

The pits, which are part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund program, contain dioxins, a group of chemicals known to cause cancer. The agency has been working on plans to remediate the site for years.

When the initial cleanup plan was released in 2017, it was estimated to take 27 months. Now, preliminary design documents show the waste extends deeper than previously thought (up to 25 feet in some areas). That means about 218,000 cubic yards of toxic waste need to be removed, and the cleanup process is now expected to take seven years.

“As long as that waste is there, the risk to the environment and to public health is great,” Jackie Young-Medcalf, executive director of the Texas Health and Environment Alliance, told Houston Public Media.

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