Texas Refinery Blaze has Reignited

Texas chemical blaze reignites as authorities sue operator for pollution & health damages

After downplaying the health and environmental hazards of the massive Deer Park chemical tank fire for nearly a week, the Texas government has sued the facility’s operator for air pollution and ecological damage.

Locals living in the greater Houston area were advised to shelter in place for days, as emergency crews tried to contain the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) tank blaze, which erupted in Deer Park last Sunday and lasted all the way through Thursday – before reigniting again on Friday afternoon.

While residents anxiously waited for authorities to take care of the hazardous fumes, local health and emergency officials kept on reassuring the public that the emergency did not pose any danger to their health or to the environment, even though the blaze destroyed at least 11 above-ground fuel storage tanks.

“There continues to be a low health risk for the general public,” Harris County Public Health continued to insist on Friday, as black clouds of fume from the reignited fire covered large parts of Harris County.

Rejecting public concerns that the ITC fire resulted in leaks of benzene, authorities continue to insist that the local water system has not been contaminated. “The tests revealed no evidence of benzene in the water,” Nicholas Cook, Surface Water Treatment Plant Supervisor, told local news, noting that levels of cancer-causing trihalomethanes showed readings within an acceptable range.

UPDATE: State officials say the foam and components in the water pose no threat to Deer Park drinking water .. #Abc13

NEARLY 3 DAYS LATER: EPA tells me they’re STILL waiting on results for water samples taken from bayou where runoff from #ITCfire ended up. They also could NOT tell us if there’s likely been enough put in to prevent it from getting to Galveston Bay. Live reports start at 3 #Abc13

This is horrible in so many ways. The fish are either suffering horribly or are dead. Any wildlife that drinks from the water, same thing. How about people whose drinking water comes from the river? How certain can they be that it will be safe to drink?

Remember when Christine Whitman told the rescuers at ground zero that the air was safe to breathe? Then after people started getting sick from the air and then they started dying it took congress years before they found money to help them. How many people are going to die from this event? More importantly how many of them are poor and have no health insurance? Because refineries like this are never built in places where rich people live.

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Hawkfish's picture

For environmental damage, it’s got to be bad.

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Deja's picture

Rich people won't live close to the Houston Ship Channel, because they can afford not to. Same goes for Pasadena, Deer Park, Texas City, La Marque, and much of mainland Galveston county. That's where the refineries and really nasty chemical plants are.

The residential drinking water does not come from a river, it comes from a lake North of Houston, and some probably from really old wells, but not much of that anymore (hopefully).

My coworker and I agreed that had we lived nearby, during the entire ordeal (still going on), neither of our kids would have attended school, and we probably would still be staying somewhere else if possible. At first the schools followed protocol and had school open based on the "it's perfectly safe" reports from the new judge lady who handles emergencies and replaced judge Emmet, but someone with a brain eventually closed the schools.

Being where I am, I was not directly affected. However, I watched "The Devil We Know" this weekend, and my previous zero faith in what the EPA says, as well as the Texas equivalent (TCEQ) was reinforced 10 fold. They're all bought and paid for. Oh, and know where not to live with their loved ones. (The West, Texas fertilizer plant is blood on the hands of both of those agencies.)

Cherry topping: our governor told us we could go to our neighbors, who happen to be companies that use/manufacture chemicals, and simply ask them what types of chemicals because having the info online is dangerous. I can see his point in a way, but all people living close by should be informed by the companies, without having to be asked, imo.

Thanks for posting this.

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snoopydawg's picture

I'm not sure why this post was placed on Friday since I posted it last night, but glad you saw it.

we probably would still be staying somewhere else if possible. At first the schools followed protocol and had school open based on the "it's perfectly safe" reports from the new judge lady who handles emergencies and replaced judge Emmet, but someone with a brain eventually closed the schools.

That the EPA or whoever said that the air was safe should lose their job, but then they were just probably doing what they were told. But anyone could see how bad the air was and know it wasn't safe to breathe. And yeah it's usually poor people who live in areas where this type of incident occurs. The oil and other companies like this always build their dangerous things in poor areas. Richmond CA has a chevron refinery in a poor neighborhood and it's spewing stuff again. People who are affected go to hospitals but then who ends up paying their bill?

South Chicago has a Koch brother's petchoe tailings dump and when the wind blows it covers their homes in fine dust that people breathe in.

Getting information out of companies shouldn't be as difficult as it is, but they hide behind trade secrets. Then there's all the goobers who are happy that Trump is dismantling the EPA and other agencies that keep us safe. How dumb is this? Yeah let's go back to when rivers could catch on fire.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
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snoopydawg's picture

Thousands of people have gone to a pop up clinic to get treatment from the toxic fumes and if they accept help from the refinery company for their medical bills, missing work and other related issues then they can't be part of the upcoming lawsuit against the company. How many desperate people who are cash poor will accept this deal while not understanding what they are giving up?

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-03-24/cancer-causing-chemical-over-h...

How many pregnant women are going to have medical issues going forward because of this? But yeah let's keep cheering Trump for rolling back regulations!

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-03-24/cancer-causing-chemical-over-h...

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery