Harris County Attorney’s Office Seeks to Restrain Contamination of Local Waterways
On Thursday Harris County, represented by Harris County Attorney, Vince Ryan was granted a temporary restraining order by the Judge of the 157th Civil Judicial District Court against New Energy Fuels based in Waller, TX, as well as several employees of the company ordering them to “…cease all activities…”. The suit also restrains the illegal disposal of waste in storm drains and waterways by subjecting the company’s officers to jail and fines if the order is violated. The County also seeks civil penalties, costs and attorneys fees in the suit. Order
Sunday May 1, 2011, Lonnie Perkins, an employee of New Energy Fuels was arrested in the 8500 block of Golden Spike by officers from Harris County Constables Environmental Crimes Unit and the Houston Police when he was caught in the act of illegally dumping several thousand gallons of an oily, acidic substance from a tanker truck into a City storm drain. Perkins admitted his employer, New Energy Fuels, paid him $2,000.00 to “decant” the substance into the drain. The District Attorney’s Office seized the truck and money taken during in the criminal case and Perkins remains in the County Jail awaiting indictment,
Investigators with a multi –agency task force linked New Energy Fuels with more illegal dumping through laboratory tests that point to the process believed to be used by the company to produce biofuels from grease. Lab tests also show the acid-content of the waste is high enough and the public locations where it was dumped, poses a danger to children, pets, and unsuspecting adults. The waste could cause severe burns if encountered and in one location it caused a fish kill and has been found at as many as a dozen locations.
“Evidence obtained from the arrest site and a search warrant indicates the company engages in the practice of illegally disposing of its waste.” said Assistant County Attorney Rock Owens. Police believe the company may be responsible for the illegal dumping of at least 120,000 gallons of industrial solid waste and hazardous waste.
The newly created Harris County Pollution Control Services Department, Harris County Constables Environmental Crimes Unit, the Houston Police Department and the Waller Police Department cooperated in bringing the case. “Besides the danger posed by this irresponsible dumping, hundreds of thousands of dollars in clean up costs have been spent and it has been estimated that the costs will exceed $1 million, money that should have been paid by New Energy Fuels but for now is being borne by tax payers.” Owens said.