The Harris County Precinct One Environmental Crimes Unit today served a search warrant at a property in the 1000 block of Church Street near Crosby.
On May 28th, Precinct One was notified of a black, oily substance seen by a resident in the ditches adjacent to the property. This discharge appeared to be coming off the property on Church Street. It stretched at least one-quarter mile west along Church Street and 655 feet to the south along the San Jacinto River Authority’s clean water basin. A Harris County contractor is working diligently to remediate the area before any storm spreads it further. Since last week remediation teams have removed over 20 thousand gallons of contaminated oil/water mix from those ditches.
Several large containers of an oil-like substance were located at the scene, but the source of the contamination is still unclear. Precinct One Investigators, working with Harris County Pollution Control and the San Jacinto River Authority, spent the day using an excavator to search for that source. They believe the perpetrator buried barrels or containers of oil on the property repeatedly over an extended period of time, possibly years. Investigators characterize the size and volume of the contamination as one of the largest and most significant they have ever worked.
The Harris County District Attorney’s office assisted in obtaining the search warrant executed today at the property. This allowed investigators to dig and take samples from the soil. Those samples will undergo chemical analysis. If investigators can prove the chemical on the property is in fact what has been seeping in the ditches, they can seek criminal charges.
“It’s not right. People do not deserve to have contaminated soil and water nearby,” said Constable Alan Rosen. It’s just not going to be tolerated.”
No one is currently charged or in custody, however the investigation is still underway.
A temporary restraining order is in place forcing the owner of the property to begin clean up . Investigators estimate clean up costs already have surpassed $1 million.