Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan won a court order on Monday stopping a Houston company from dumping hazardous waste into the city’s storm sewer system.
The temporary restraining order prevents Wright Containers, LLC, 6633 Lindberg in southeast Houston, from accepting more waste and disposing of the waste into the city’s system. Judge Jeff Shadwick of the 55th State District Court ordered Wright Containers to return for a hearing on January 19.
Wright Containers operates an industrial packaging company that supplies totes, steel drums, and other packaging products. Among its products are "Reconditioned Bottle Totes." Totes are large plastic chemical storage containers that are encased in a heavy metal wire cage. Each tote is capable of holding approximately 300 gallons of waste. According to its website, "Wright Containers will pick up your dirty and empty IBCs."
Three company employees alerted authorities about ongoing violations of the Texas Water Code. The District Attorney, the City Attorney and the Houston Police Department used their information to obtain a search warrant. The search of Wright Containers by HPD on January 4 uncovered evidence that the company had accepted used hazardous waste containers without proper state authorization. Additional evidence found at the site supported the whistleblower allegations that hazardous waste had been illegally dumped into a concealed storm drain leading to the City of Houston’s storm water collection system connected to Sims Bayou. Between 300 and 500 totes remain at the facility. Many contain hazardous waste, some of it is highly corrosive, and the totes are in various states of disrepair, with some leaking waste onto the ground.
“Cleaning chemical waste containers is a hazardous business and one that requires strict compliance with state and city environmental law,” said County Attorney Ryan. “Dumping waste from these containers in to the storm sewers is unacceptable. If the company’s employees had not alerted HPD to this problem it would have continued unreported. They may well have averted a disaster.”
Company owner Ron Wright has agreed to work with the County and City to ensure the business is in compliance with all applicable environmental laws before it resumes cleaning used containers.