Chemical leak in SE Houston has neighbors thinking about evacuating

HOUSTON – A chemical leak from an abandoned waste disposal facility has neighbors in one southeast Houston community thinking about evacuating.

Residents on Kingsbury Street say a strong odor overtook their neighborhood after heavy rainfall.

The city responded but had no clear answers for neighbors.

That's because the chemical is coming from a plant that was shut down by federal and state authorities five years ago. The former CES plant is now under the control of U.S. bankruptcy court.

Crews cleaned up the residential area and built a dirt wall to prevent any more of the unknown chemical from leaking into the neighborhood.

"The best thing we can do is tell the citizens to stay away from the material," said Senior Officer Stephen Dicker with Houston Police. "Right now we're not sure what's in the plant anymore. A lot of those materials were taken out or were supposed to be taken out."

Neighbors say the smell coming from the plant has always been bad but never this foul.

The odor is comparable to gasoline, and it has discolored portions of the street.

Houston Fire Department took samples and conducted air tests. Those results aren't expected back until Monday at the earliest.

"We need to know if we should be getting out of here. What we're inhaling could be hazardous to us. That's not a chance I'm willing to take," said resident Roselyn Johnson.

Roselyn Johnson complained of a severe headache on Friday and wore a surgical mask for protection.

She is contemplating up and leaving her home because of all the unknowns.

"This is in our yards and grass. I don't know if our animals can be outside breathing this. It's affecting me. I'm afraid my health may be in jeopardy," said Johnson.

CES, which had a second plant in Port Arthur, was raided by investigators after three deaths in less than a year and two explosions the prior year.

Police say there are a number of safety issues that have remain unresolved.

"It's a pain for the city. The city has been trying to do something about this," added Senior Officer Dicker. "The problem is they were doing things they weren't allowed to do. The owner of the company is indicted and in federal prison."

Neighbors wonder how long they'll have to wait for a permanent solution.

For now, the city is advising residents to stay away from standing water and the open air period if possible.

The city hopes to have clearance to access the plant on Monday to get a better look inside.


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