Neighbors protest plant after fatality

July 8, 2009 4:14:18 PM PDT
A worker's death at a southeast Houston chemical plant is raising serious safety concerns. Now the community is getting involved, demanding to have the place shut down. A flash fire killed a worker at CES Environmental Services on Griggs at Milart Tuesday afternoon. CES Environmental Services has been an unwelcome neighbor, according to nearby homeowners who complained last year of a foul odor coming from the waste recycling facility. In December, there were two continuous explosions, one of which was said to have damaged several homes. What happened on Tuesday has accelerated homeowners' concerns even more.

A worker was burned Tuesday afternoon in what the fire department called a flash fire. CES called it an "energy release." The worker died on Wednesday, and that has renewed calls for the business to move or be shut down. A community group is asking OSHA to order the operation to close.

"My fear level is no sleep," said neighbor Judy Johnson. "We do not sleep ... in this community. We don't sleep. We don't go to sleep. I'm leaving my house. I'm going to leave my house, because I'm not going to stay here with anybody competing with chemicals. Human beings cannot compete with chemicals and explosions. That will never mix!"

The manager of CES told Eyewitness News Tuesday's accident was just that -- a tragic accident that resulted in a death. An investigation is underway into the circumstances surrounding it.

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