20,000 gallons of oil found illegally buried in Crosby, leaking into nearby waterway, officials say

CROSBY, Texas – The Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office is investigating what they call a serious crime against the environment in Crosby, Texas.

On May 28, environmental investigators were called to 1017 Church Street and discovered tens of thousands of gallons of oil buried illegally at the property.

“It was buried here and it is everywhere," said Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen. “You can smell it, you can see it and it is oozing out of the ground as we dig.”

Rosen says investigators were tipped off by a citizen who saw oil flowing into a nearby drainage ditch.

During the investigation, Rosen says members of his Environmental Crimes division discovered ruptured barrels of oil buried deep in the ground in layers on the property. That oil was then discovered leaking into a nearby drainage ditch.

“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," officials wrote in a press release.

Crews are working to try and clean up the leaking oil and prevent it from spreading further into surrounding waterways.

“Since last week remediation teams have removed over 20 thousand gallons of contaminated oil/water mix from those ditches.”

Investigators said the size and volume of the contamination were among “the largest and most significant they have ever worked.”

“This is a very serious environmental case,” Rosen said.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office helped Constable’s deputies obtain a search warrant Friday. Soil samples from the property will undergo chemical analysis and if investigators can prove the chemical on the property did in fact seep into the nearby ditches, they may seek criminal charges, officials wrote.

As of Friday night, property owner Wesley Zarsky has not been arrested or charged.

A temporary restraining order was obtained to prevent Zarsky from dumping any kind of hazardous waste or oil on the property and force him to begin cleanup.

Officials estimate the total cost of cleanup has already surpassed $1 million.

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