Rio Hondo Families Concerned if Hazardous Chemicals are in Soil of Nearby Property

Posted: Updated:

RIO HONDO – Families living near a burned down paint warehouse want answers. It’s been abandoned for six years.

This pile of burned, rusting and empty paint cans is a neglected landmark. A Rio Hondo homeowner said it shouldn't be here.

"I am afraid that there are a lot of bacteria in there,” said concerned homeowner Anulfo Perez.

Perez’s home sits feet away from the property. He built his home and raised his family here starting in the 1980s. He lives in a rural area. Across the street is farmland and around the corner is an elementary school.

In 2012, his view of next door changed dramatically. A paint warehouse burned to the ground leaving behind red and gray containers and small metal paint cans time stained with rust.

They've sat there for six years. It continues to cause the Perez family to ask this question, what's happened over that time to the paint and other things the containers once held?

"It all depends on what kind of chemicals, chemicals were in there. I don't know what to tell you that some of it was paint, yeah,” said Perez.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is asking that same question.

TCEQ spokesperson Andrew Keese explained the owner of the property, William Templeton, has several violations. 

The violations were set down in a 2015 court-ordered document from the attorney's general office. Keese sent us the statement below, reading:

“On June 27, 2017, the TCEQ requested that the Office of the Attorney General pursue appropriate legal action against William Templeton to ensure compliance with the final summary judgment entered against Templeton in cause No. D-1-GV-13-000507. The final summary judgment requires Templeton to remove and properly dispose of all solid waste from the property and to conduct soil sampling and remediation of any contaminated soil. Until the soil sampling is conducted, it is unknown whether the soil is contaminated with hazardous constituents.”

TCEQ pointed out until that sampling is done they won't know if the soil is contaminated with hazardous materials.

This leaves Perez preparing and waiting for the results.

"If it's that bad it won't be long now, it's going to be showing up around here on the people,” said Perez.

Perez said he worries for his growing community, the plants across his front porch and the elementary students around the corner.

All are at risk of the unknown on this piece of land.  Its owner seems unwilling or unable to take responsibility for making sure this land is safe.

Para leer noticias en español, visite nuestra sección Español.