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Houston EPA Lab Slated to Close

The Environmental Protection Agency's regional lab in Houston, Texas, is slated to close in 2020, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The Region 6 Environmental Services Laboratory, which is expected to be a hub of soil and water testing in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, employs about 50 people and serves five states. But, thanks largely to the Trump administration's steep cuts to the agency's funding, the lab will not renew the lease for its property in southwest Houston.

On Wednesday, environmentalist and labor union groups gathered in Washington, D.C., to protest the lab's closure, noting its critical role in Harvey recovery and testing samples from Superfund sites.

Officials still don't know exactly how polluted the water in Houston is at this point, but the Texas Tribune called the floodwaters a "mix of bacteria, viruses, metals and other potentially toxic pollutants leached from the myriad of refineries and chemical plants in the area, along with an untold number of submerged septic tanks and dozens of Superfund sites."

The next closest EPA regional lab is 400 miles away in Oklahoma.