More Excitement at that Chemical Waste Disposal Plant in the Back Yard

Good news for the residents of Grace Ln. who back up to that Griggs Rd. waste treatment and disposal facility run by CES Environmental Services! It’ll probably be a while before another thermal oxidizer ruptures and sends four-foot-wide metal pieces flying over their back fences again:

“I mean, this was metal that could have decapitated people,” [Grace Ln. resident and salon owner Kimberly Sadberry] said. “It was sharp. We had to put it on a dolly to take it back, it was that heavy.”

CES assured residents nothing like that would ever happen again, but less than two weeks later, another explosion occurred, she said.

Why the grace period now? Responding to complaints about intermittent explosions and noxious smells emanating from the plant — as well as the fiery death last month of a CES employee as he attempted to clean a tanker truck — police officers and federal agents raided the facility yesterday morning. And figuring out what’s really going on there might take a while:


[Houston Police Department environmental investigations unit senior officer Stephen] Dicker expected the search to last for much of the week. The pace slowed because of intense heat as well as unspecified safety issues that forced investigators to wear protective breathing gear and other equipment, he said. . . .

The raids resulted from a criminal investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Texas Parks and Wildlife’s environmental crimes unit, and HPD, Dicker said. Investigators are going through paperwork and taking chemical samples, he said. He wouldn’t say exactly what they were looking for.

Adding to the fun at the CES campus at 4904 Griggs Rd., just a couple miles south of UH: After fuming with indignation for much of the day, a trash bin attached to a truck on the CES grounds burst into flames yesterday afternoon as investigators were working nearby. Fire officials told abc13 News reporter Sonia Azad they didn’t know what chemicals were on fire, but declared it safe for nearby residents to come out of their homes after 6 pm, when the flames were extinguished.

Videos: Jason Witmer, Houston Chronicle