Houston container management company Wright Containers is responsible for intentionally pouring hazardous chemicals into southeast Houston’s storm drain system and improperly storing hazardous waste.
Wright Containers is in the 6300 block of Lindbergh Street, within a mile of Hartman Middle School and Gregg Elementary School. Wright Containers’ majority partner Ronald F. Wright, as well as general manager Gregory B. Hance, are the recipients of Office of Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s indictment.
In the indictment, Ogg notes that polluters that intentionally poison the environment with corrosive and toxic substances “disregard the health of our people” and will receive full prosecution. Wright and Hance are charged with two counts of intentional water pollution, carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison per count.
Furthermore, the defendants are charged with one count each of improper disposal and storage of hazardous materials, carrying a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. The company faces up to $250,000 in fines per violation.
Wright Containers and Dangerous Chemicals
Wright Containers dumped numerous dangerous chemicals into the drainage system, including benzene, dichloromethane, ethylbenzene, butylbenzene, and toluene. Several of these chemicals are toxic to bodily organs, easily ignitable and linked to cancer, which makes their presence in a city storm-drain system alarming.
For example, exposure to toluene can include exhaustion, confusion, irritation of the eyes and nose, anxiety, muscle fatigue, and dilated pupils. Ingestion of ethylbenzene can cause a burning sensation in the throat and chest, with dizziness and sore throat upon inhalation.
The presence of these chemicals in the city storm-drain system presents a risk to the environment and surrounding communities.
Hazardous chemicals can cause illness and increase the likelihood of cancer, while also resulting in a burning sensation if one ingests water with these chemicals. Hazardous chemicals should be handled with care, requiring specialists that deal with eliminating the chemicals’ presence.
The Motive for Chemical Dumping
Wright Containers primarily deals in industrial-strength containers, which can hold up to 330 gallons of liquid. The containers are mounted on pallets, encased in metal cages and are durable with plastic that’s as thick as 1 inch.
Wright Containers’ modus operandi is to reuse containers while dumping the container’s previous contents into the drain, which ultimately led to Wright Containers’ demise and the indictment from Office of Harris County District Attorney Ogg.
In their advertising, Wright Containers targeted companies that used these containers, many of which were in the oil and gas industry. These companies, located in a variety of states that included Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, disposed of their containers and the waste inside by trucking them to Wright Containers.
Upon receiving these containers, Wright Containers would pour the contents into the city’s drainage system, leading to Simms Bayou and then Galveston Bay, a huge aspect of Houston’s drainage system.
The Impact of Waterborne Chemicals on Communities
Wright Containers’ actions show a disregard for public safety and health. Rather than opting to discard of dangerous chemicals safely, Wright Containers chose to quickly discard the hazardous materials into southeast Houston’s storm-drain system.
Hazardous chemicals in the drainage system impact the environment and nearby communities, with the potential to increase the likelihood of reproduction and behavioral disorders, endocrine system disruption and neurological issues.
Wright Containers’ actions can serve as a reminder to everyone regarding the prudence of paying attention to what you dump down the drain.
For example, personal care products like old cologne or leftover toner carry potentially dangerous chemicals that can be hazardous when dumped down the drain and exposed to the drainage system.
Businesses and personal consumers alike should seek professional consultation when getting rid of materials with hazardous chemicals.