Authorities Shut Down Houston Plant

A Houston environmental plant is under raid by local and federal authorities today. CES Environmental Services is an industrial waste facility that's the subject of numerous complaints and the scene of recent accidents, including one death last month. Laurie Johnson has more.

Last month a fire at the CES Environmental Services plant on Griggs Road killed one employee.

Another employee died on the grounds last year and the facility has also been the scene of at least two small explosions. The company's Port Arthur facility is also under raid and investigation after a worker's death at that site.

The Houston Police Department's Stephen Dicker says the company is under investigation for environmental crimes and violations.

"Right now the facility is shut down. It is in our possession for the next three days, possibly four depending on how things go. One of the big factors for us right now is the heat. We can't work our guys extremely hard in the heat right now, especially when they're wearing protective clothing and so forth."

The southeast Houston facility treats and disposes of chemical and industrial waste.

Sherell Hill lives directly behind the Griggs location. She says she experienced one explosion back in December.

"Where it shook the house, broke up a lot of stuff. And we just finished remodeling our home, so we spent like thousands of dollars on the property there and now we've experienced the cracks in the walls. And this is from December where we haven't gotten any kind of resolution from them."

Anne Eamon also lives in the neighborhood. She says they've long had basic nuisance problems of late night noise and bright lights, but the issues really came to a head about two years ago.

"Essentially the city caught them dumping a lot of the stuff they were supposed to be processing directly in the sanitary sewer. And once that happened in December of 2006, they had to start actually processing the waste. Then when they did that, we started having more and more of a smell problem because they couldn't contain it. And so that became a weekly problem, and then almost a daily problem until it came to a head last summer where it was almost constant."

Repeated phone calls to the company's headquarters were not answered and there was no response to an email request for an interview.

Officials wouldn't elaborate on exactly what evidence they're looking for, but say the company is cooperating with the investigation.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.


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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...