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Houston Residents, Council Members Want Empty Chemical Plant Cleaned Up

The Environmental Protection Agency has done some work on the site. But neighbors still complain about the stench and are concerned for their health.


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(Click on the audio file above to listen to all of Jones’ comments and those of of several other speakers.)


Two Houston city councilmembers joined community activists Monday calling for the expedited clean-up of an abandoned chemical plant in the middle of a neighborhood.

Resident Judith Jones invited people to her backyard in the South-Central part of the city, near the main campus of the University of Houston. There she showed them the eyesore that is the facility and invited them to smell the stench emanating from the old CES Environmental Services plant.

Jones said it is ruining the quality of life in the neighborhood.

“You get so discouraged about having a plant like this in your backyard,” Jones said. “They say there are no zoning laws. So, that’s the reason why people can put chemical plants and other things that are deadly and hazardous to your health.”

Judith Jones (podium) is surrounded by supporters as she speaks about the problems an abandoned chemical plant causes in her neighborhood.

The facility was owned by CES, which recycled chemicals there. The company went bankrupt four years ago, leaving the chemicals exposed to the elements, officials have said.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has done some clean-up work on the site.

But Houston City Council Member Dwight Boykins said it has not been enough. He says the issue is complicated by the fact that the property is part of the CES bankruptcy proceedings, making it difficult for the city to finish the clean-up.

“The last conversation I had with regards to this project, back here, is that it was in the trustees hand, in the bankruptcy court. What they were talking about was selling the property,” Boykins said. “But in the meantime, you have residents in this neighborhood that are suffering, suffering daily.”

The old plant is about a mile south of the University of Houston campus, and two miles away is the Texas Medical Center. The site itself is about the size of three football fields. It holds several warehouses and several dozen storage tanks and tanker trucks.

Besides the odor, neighbors over the years have reportedly endured an explosion that sent shrapnel into their yards. And when the rains came earlier this spring and summer, the EPA says chemically-contaminated storm water ran into neighborhood ditches.