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Oil pollutes Crosby waterways

A Harris County contractor is working diligently to remediate the area before any storm spreads the oily substance further. Since last week remediation teams have removed over 20 thousand gallons of contaminated oil/water mix from those ditches. Laboratory analysis is still underway to determine what exactly the substance is, in process to figuring out how it got there and who is responsible.

CROSBY — Remediation continues in the 1000 block of Church St. where an oil like substance was found layered into the ground and overflowing into the ditches late last week.

A specially funded Environmental Enforcement unit from Harris County Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen’s Office was called out to answer a resident’s complaint of a black oily substance in the ditches along Church Street on May 28. This discharge appeared to be coming off a property on Church Street. It stretched at least one-quarter mile west along Church Street and 655 feet to the south along the San Jacinto River Authority’s clean water basin.

Precinct One Investigators, working with Harris County Pollution Control and the San Jacinto River Authority, spent the day using an excavator to search for that source. They believe the perpetrator buried barrels or containers of oil on the property repeatedly over an extended period of time, possibly years. Investigators characterize the size and volume of the contamination as one of the largest and most significant they have ever worked.

The Harris County District Attorney’s office allowed a search warrant. That warrant was executed Monday at the property of Wesley Zarsky. This allowed investigators to dig and take samples from the soil. Those samples will undergo chemical analysis. If investigators can prove the chemical on the property is in fact what has been seeping in the ditches, they can seek criminal charges based on findings identifying the substance and the source of the pollution. No suspects have been named in the investigation as yet. No one is currently charged or in custody, however the investigation is still underway.

A temporary restraining order is in place forcing the owner of the property to begin clean up and not to dump anything more on the property.

Investigators estimate clean up costs already have surpassed $1 million.

“It’s not right. People do not deserve to have contaminated soil and water nearby,” said Constable Alan Rosen, “It’s just not going to be tolerated.”

Ruptured barrels of oil are buried deep in the ground layer upon layer on the property but it is still not clear who placed the barrels there.

Some locals believe that if one finds oil on their property that some industrial entity will haul it away for free but that is not the case and used oil disposition can be expensive.

Constable Rosen said at the location, “You can smell it, you can see it and it is oozing out of the ground as we dig.”