A Houston company and two of its principals are reportedly facing felony charges for allegedly dumping toxic chemicals into storm drains over several months.
Workers at Wright Containers, a company which manufactures plastic packing supplies, are facing charges for reportedly dumping gallons of toxic materials, such as benzene, ethylbenzene and toluene, into storm drains less than a mile from an elementary school.
Records show a Harris County grand jury indicted owner Ronald F. Wright, 50, and general manager Gregory B. Hance, 41, on two counts of intentional water pollution and one count of improper disposal and storage of hazardous materials.
Each man could face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 per violation if convicted; prosecutors also named the company as a defendant.
According to court documents, the company called on employees to transport containers of toxic waste to a nearby storm drain feeding into Sims Bayou and Galveston Bay.
Company officials further allegedly instructed workers to use tall containers, known as “totes,” to obstruct the public’s view of the illegal dumping activities.
Authorities said they first became aware of the dumping when employees complained about health problems related to exposure to toxic materials, including eye and skin irritation.
When the employers reportedly refused to pay for their healthcare costs, some employees blew the whistle and recorded video of the dumping scheme.
The Wright Containers facility is located less than a mile from two elementary schools and a middle school, as well as hundreds of homes.
Alex Forrest, chief of the environmental crimes division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, told the Houston Chronicle his office is committed to working with local communities and injured workers to target companies engaged in illegal dumping schemes:
“If you’re operating without a license and handling hazardous waste, discharging hazardous waste, disposing of it, we’re going after you,” Forrest said in the interview.
This is a developing, wasteful story.