Residents protest waste treatment plant

September 9, 2008 6:09:52 PM PDT
Residents in southeast Houston are protesting against what they're calling a bad neighbor. They say a waste treatment plant is responsible for an odor that's making them sick and citations from the city prove it's a nuisance.

Company officials at CES Environmental Services on Griggs disagree.

We've learned that the city of Houston has threatened to sue CES Environmental Services if it doesn't clean up what it puts out. Those living nearby say it's about time.

Since 2006, the city of Houston says it has received over a hundred complains from people living around CES Environmental Services. Some of those complaints say there is an odor so foul it was overwhelming.

"When it's at its worse you can't even breathe," said Charles Jones who is worried about the odor. "It suffocates you."

The neighbors are so upset they protested outside the plant. They say their coughs, sneezes and headaches won't go away.

Kim Sadberry's father died recently of respiratory failure. She wonders if what's in this air contributed to that.

"We don't know what we have been exposed to," she said. "Still don't know."

Of the 153 complaints since last September from those living here, the city says a third were confirmed. Forty notices of violation of the city's nuisance ordinance were given to CES. They were actually cited ten times.

"By doing that we at least have some leverage to get them to work with us to make the changes that needed to be changed so they can reduce the emissions coming from this facility ," said Mayor Bill White's spokesperson Patrick Trahan.

CES says it's working to be a better neighbor. It's spent a million and a half dollars installing equipment to try and reduce foul emissions. That includes adding an air scrubber and deodorizing misters. They've even moved some of their operations elsewhere.

The company insists that their facility complies with state and federal guidelines and that nothing released is a danger to those living nearby.

"It's a nuisance violation," said Greg Bowman with CES Environmental Services, Inc. "I don't want to diminish that. It's in odor issue. It's not a health hazard."

Those who live nearby and have kids who go to schools nearby also ask how CES got a permit to operate an industrial waste treatment facility in the first place.

As you know zoning in the city of Houston is lax and the city says a permit was granted by the state.

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