09/05/18 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE BRIO LATENCY EFFECT “I moved to Sageglen in 1981 during kindergarten and went to Weber all the way through 6th grade and onto Webster. We played in the ditches catching crawdads, waded through flood waters, and drank the water freely. So many friends lived in Southbend so plenty of time was spent there as well playing throughout the neighborhood on what we thought were playgrounds and neighborhood pools. During the notification process of the contamination, my mother (Chinese and unable to read English at the time) was never aware of any class action suit. I, being a child, only knew we weren’t allowed to drink from the water fountains and didn’t even know what a class action suit or toxic contamination was at the time. Thus, we never signed up for it, nor received any compensation whatsoever. . . After reading all the accounts of vague health issues, I am realizing more and more that my own health issues are pretty much parallel. This cannot be a coincidence. Does anyone know of any sort of data collection on former residents to track the health implications? Or is there a class action suit still available to join; or has anyone filed another considering a lot of these issues are not presenting until adulthood? My biggest concern is: Will these issues be passed down and affect my own child? I just don’t feel this catastrophe and crime against so many people’s health/lives that we are all still/now finding out about should be a ‘closed’ case. We were oblivious kids back then without any idea of how this would affect us in our lives and well-being as adults.” [Marie, commenting on My Toxic Houston Childhood] Photo of Clear Creek near Brio Superfund site: Allyn West

08/31/17 3:45pm

Captured on Sunday between bands of Harvey downpour by an enterprising drone photographer hunkering in Friendswood, the video above includes a quick pan over the Brio Superfund site south of Beamer Rd. near the intersection with Dixie Farm Rd. The former chemical facility, once at the heart of both the long-gone Southbend neighborhood and of the series of lawsuits filed by Southbend residents over contamination-related birth defects and illnesses, makes its cameo around minute 3, as the drone passes over a waterlogged Exxon Mobil station and rotates from south to east down Beamer toward the San Jacinto College South Campus.

Might floodwaters flowing across the Brio site and all those other Superfund spots dotting the local map have stirred up toxin-laced sediments and spread them around? (Texas A&M Galveston scientist Wes Highfield was worried enough about the possibility to attempt a mid-flood outing from his home to try to get some water samples.) In the video, the Brio site appears to be a little less waterlogged than some of its surroundings — including the adjacent section of Beamer Rd., shown picking up a bit of kayak traffic — but likely got washed over by around 42 in. of rain altogether in the past week.

In a follow-up drone run flown on Wednesday, the site (making an appearance about 2-and-a-half minutes in) looks like it might have dried off a bit:


Superfund and Beyond
05/13/15 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOME IS WHERE THE CHEMICAL WASTE IS Southbend, Houston“I lived there from 1984-1990, from 2nd to 7th grade. I remember there being a ton of empty houses by the end. They never finished the neighborhood either, given that the problems occurred and people knew about it by the end. You’d have entire streets with 4 or 5 houses on it. My friends and I would play baseball, or football in those empty lots. We’d hit baseballs through windows of abandoned homes, and it’d be a dare to ‘go into that ghost house’ to get the ball back. I remember going back in 1993 or so, and the entire place was empty, boarded up. It was sad. My dad and I hopped the fence and walked back to where our house was. We were there for about 5 minutes when the police came and wanted to know what the hell we were doing. Apparently, it’d become a place for squatters. By 1995 the entire neighborhood was bulldozed to the ground. Now just an empty field. Yes, my dad lost a ton on that house. But we were part of that settlement that is mentioned. Paid for a small portion of my college, will pay for a tiny portion of my kids’ college. We were lucky in that I didn’t have any defects (that I know of), and my sister seems alright as well, though she had severe migraines at the time. It was a weird situation, especially for a 7-12 year old. But, I didn’t know it was ‘odd’ at the time. I just thought that it was cool, that I could break a window, or climb into a back yard to get a ball back, at a house that sat empty for 4 years. I thought it was ‘normal.’” [Matt, commenting on My Toxic Houston Childhood] Illustration: Lulu

10/01/14 12:00pm

Area Surrounding Former Brio Superfund Site, Dixie Farm Rd. at Beamer Rd., Southbend Subdivision, Friendswood, Houston

Inspired by reading René Steinke’s new and recently optioned-for-film novel Friendswood, the plot of which centers on the aftermath of the Brio Superfund mess just south of I-45 and the Beltway, Cite magazine’s Allyn West returns to the former chemical waste facility at Dixie Farm Rd. and Beamer Rd. to snap some photos and have a look around: “The first thing you pass is a landfill. And then, incongruously, you pass archetypal subdivisions with bucolic names, much like Southbend must have been. There’s a dedicated bike lane on both sides of Dixie Farm, clearly marked and freshly painted. Then turning toward the site onto Blackhawk Boulevard, you pass Ashley Pointe, a new subdivision. That morning, I saw construction workers milling about around unfinished stick frames. If Southbend still existed, Ashley Pointe would sit right next to it.”


Buried Secrets
11/30/09 5:35pm

Blogger Maritza Valle grew up in Southbend, next to the Brio Superfund site, just west of San Jacinto College’s South Campus:

I lived in a toxic waste dump when I was young.

Yes, let it sink in like the waste sank into our ground and somehow contaminated the water.

When I was young, I can’t remember how young, my mother and I moved in with Gamma, my maternal grandmother. Maybe I was about 7 because my brother was there too.  I still remember the address: 11606 South Arbor, Houston Texas 77089. It was a subdivision, pretty new, with a nice school just around the block, and our house had a back yard opposite a huge field. Every once in a while, men in weird space-suit looking outfits would come out and mess around with the ground, which concerned me because there were cows out there, and then leave. . . .


09/22/09 3:12pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: NOT MUCH HAPPENING SOUTH OF CLEAR BROOK LANDING “. . . Beamer Road is a special case because of the Brio Superfund Site. There was a waste processing plant that had disposed of a great deal of material from various refineries by dumping it into earthen pits. That was not standard practice; this was Houston’s Love Canal. The Brio site has been contained to prevent additional seepage through the groundwater, but the pollution that’s there would be far too expensive to remediate. So yeah, unless your friend got a chunk of that sweet sweet settlement, he’s probably **** out of luck.” [TheNiche, commenting on Comment of the Day: Where the Townhomes Ain’t]

07/30/09 11:18pm

Any takers for that Rice Design Alliance membership prize?

Missouri City and Katy attracted the most guesses in this week’s game, with 3 each. Pasadena, Mission Bend, Sagemont, Aldine and Clear Lake had 2 each. The rest? Briargrove, “that neighborhood along Eldridge Pkwy. just north of Alief-Clodine (Ashford Point?),” Pearland just east of 288 and south of Beltway 8, Spring, Green Tee in Pearland, “the vast hinterlands Southeast of Downtown,” League City, Bear Creek, “the neighborhood southwest of the Fondren/Bellfort intersection,” “out Richmond between Beltway 8 and Highway 6, “somewhere south of Southbelt,” Highland Meadows, “Concord Colony/Bridge off W. Little York between Highway 6 and Eldridge,” “the Seabrook/El Lago area,” Cinco Ranch, Kingwood, Fondren Southwest, Northfield, Deer Park, LaPorte, Silverlake, Alief, “Oak Forest Park Park,” “the Kirkwood/Briar Forest hood,” Bacliff, “off Wilcrest, between Briar Forest and Memorial . . . by the Lakeside Country Club,” “off Newcastle, close to Bellaire Blvd.,” and the Galleria.

For a home that — in the words of one player — “could be anywhere where sub-$130,000 houses may be found,” a number of you came very close. Honorable mentions go to Carol for her eagle “shot in the dark” of Green Tee in Pearland; and to bigtoe, for that Sagemont guess.

The winner? elnina, for this:

Two story house on rather smaller lot, in a mid 1980’s subdivision somewhere south of Southbelt.
Lots of tiles downstairs make me think that this house is located in or close to a flood zone – master bedroom is downstairs and carpeted rooms upstairs. Is Turkey Creek the reason? I guess… Sagemont or Highland Meadows. I would love to see the second bathroom… :)

Congratulations, elnina! You’ve just won . . . a (second!) individual one-year membership in the RDA. Of course, you’re welcome to redirect it to any friend or family member or competitor you choose . . .

Ready to get more of the details?


02/27/09 4:17pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOME OF THE 150-FT. BUDDHA “I don’t think there would be outrage over a Buddha. Everybody would think it was ‘cute’ and look for the adjacent Chinese restaurant.” [EMME, commenting on Sagemont Cross: New Higher Power Lines Beltway 8]

02/20/09 6:42pm

What’s this? A new clean, modern design for the high-voltage power line structures along the Sam Houston Tollway, just west of I-45 South?

Naah — it’s Sagemont Church’s new 170-ft.-tall steel cross, viewed in its natural setting. Plus: It lights up at night!


06/06/07 11:10am

Kirkwood South April 2006 Yard of the Month, 10526 Sagecanyon

What do you do when you’ve got one of those pesky neighbors who just won’t take care of her overgrown back yard?

“We’ve had nutria rats — the ones that look like beavers — caught in the trap in my backyard. . . . I have had run-ins with large snakes. My dog has been sprayed by a skunk. … My children are not allowed to walk the property unless I go out there first.

“Anytime you try to entertain with friends, you have to explain why there is a jungle next door creeping through the fence. … It’s just the craziest thing.”

Sounds bad. But here’s a suggestion: Do you have any sway with the neighborhood homeowners’ association? Are you, say, its president? Well, then, why don’t you just have the reluctant gardener next door put in jail until she agrees to take care of the problem?

The Kirkmont Association first sued Ballew and won a permanent injunction against her in 2004, requiring her to mow her entire lawn twice a month and trim her trees and shrubs once a year. Ballew failed to appear in court at that time to respond to the lawsuit, which resulted in a default judgment.

But little has changed since then, Carroll said. Only the front yard has been mowed.

During a follow-up hearing in April 2006, Ballew was found to be in contempt of court for failing to comply with the injunction. She was sentenced to three days in jail, but that sentence was suspended for four months to give her time to do the required yard work, homeowners association attorney Michael Treece said.

She was ordered to return to Davidson’s court for a compliance hearing in August but failed to appear.

Davidson issued an order for Ballew’s arrest last fall. She was taken into custody Friday. The judge told Ballew he sought her arrest “very reluctantly.”

After the jump, the advice mowing scofflaw Linda Ballew took too far: tips for a healthy but shaggy lawn from the Kirkwood South website. Plus, more Kirkwood South yards of the month.