Best Industrial Incident: The Official 2016 Ballot

We’re off to a good start already with voting in the first 3 categories of this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate: Ballots for Favorite Design Cliché, Best Demolition, and the “Where Are They Now? Award opened last week. Now, which of the candidates will clean up in the Best Industrial Incident category?

Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate Ribbon LogoAs with all of this year’s award categories, there are 4 ways to vote for your favorite nominee. (You can even do all 4, if you’re really enthusiastic about a candidate!) Vote by leaving a comment below, by sending us an email, and by blasting your choices to Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget to send your friends to the polls, too — just be sure you all get your choices in by 5 PM on Tuesday, December 27th. Check out this year’s complete voting guidelines, if you need a refresher on the specifics.

What qualifies a nominee as a strong contender for Best Industrial Incident? Was it the most visually stunning event? The one that touched the most Houstonians? Or the one with the most interesting fallout? That’s up to you — now check out the official nominees:


Smoke from Holmes Recycling Plant Fire

1. Holmes Road Recycling Plant Fire, November 16th. That’s some serious distance and impeccable aim, for a burning debris pile: “From 3 miles away, the fire managed to shroud the Medical Center in smoke probably worsened by burning car fluids, while spreading haze and weird smells all the way across the Loop to the Near Northwest.”


Smoke Plume at 1700 Laverne from Texas Medical Center

2. 4-Alarm Chain Reaction Spring Branch Warehouse Fire, May 5th. A case for knowing your neighbors: “A backyard auto shop caught fire, which jumped over to the nextdoor chemical repackaging warehouse, triggering Michael Bay-esque fireballs next to to a gun and ammo shop, and a plume of ambiguously toxic smoke about a quarter mile from an elementary school, which was evacuated.


Spring Branch tributary after Laverne St. Fire

Biohazard signs in Spring Branch at Westview and Moritz drives3. Spring Branch Creek Turns Blood Red, May 5th. Hey, maybe not as red as it could’ve: “The poorly inventoried runoff from that burning chemical storage warehouse turned the water in a nearby drainage channel leading to Spring Branch Creek bright red, thanks to a petroleum additive that local cleanup folks tried to skim off — while whatever else was in the warehouse continued downstream, killing off fish and animals on the way to Buffalo Bayou. The county said Spring Creek was lucky, however — all that flooding right beforehand probably helped dilute some of the toxins.”


Shadow Creek Ranch aerial photo, Pearland, TX, 77584

4. Opening of the 26th TCEQ investigation into the Shadow Creek Ranch smell, March 4th. A stench mystery, repeatedly unsolved: “It’s not a single incident, exactly (or maybe it counts as 1 long, ongoing incident), but as of early March there had been over 2 dozen investigations launched to try to figure out where the recurrent and sometimes-nauseating stench is coming from — none of which officially pinned it the giant and growing Blue Ridge Landfill next door, nor even proved that there was an actual nuisance.


2016 Oil Bottom-out

5. Oil drops below $27 per barrel, January 20th. A flooded market can leave a mark on a city, too:  “I would argue that the collapse of oil prices probably did more damage to Houston (and the energy industry) than any release of toxins, fire, or flood.”


Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant, Braeswood at 610

Flooding around The Halstead 4620 N Braeswood Blvd., Meyerland, Houston, 770966. Ambiguous Tax Day Wastewater Treatment Plant Flooding, April 17th. When throwing shit out in the open gets it pulled back under wraps: “Aerial photos of inundated wastewater treatment plants  — not an unheard-of occurrence — were among the images cited in the El Paso Times‘s spring investigation into the apparent lack of state response to various kinds of flood-related chemical spills spotted from the air in the last few years in public flyover photographs. The state’s response to complaints that the agency wasn’t responding to the spotted spills was to cut off online access to the photo set, citing privacy concerns — until the realization of how expensive it would be to handle FOIA requests for over a  hundred thousand images caused them to go back to the old system.”


Which of these nominees blew the others away? You choose — voting starts now!

Images: Houston Fire Department (Spring Branch fire), Matthew Harkrider (red water),  Shadow Creek Ranch (Shadow Creek Ranch), (WTI graph), MOVES Public viewer (flooding along Brays Bayou),Chris Klesch (port-a-potty in Brays Bayou Tax Day floodwater),  Swamplot inbox (all others)

The 2016 Swampies

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