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News Releases from Region 06

TCEQ monitoring ITC fire site for potential health risks, supporting emergency personnel

03/21/2019
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Fires are now extinguished at Intercontinental Terminals Co., a chemical storage facility in Deer Park. TCEQ continues to support emergency responders as incident command evaluates any potential impacts to human health and the environment.

Because fires are no longer burning up fuel sources in the tanks, TCEQ staff has observed hourly concentrations of benzene fluctuating in the vicinity of the ITC property. Vapor suppression activities are being conducted at the site.

Monitored levels of benzene have not reached a point of short-term health concern with a maximum of 66.6 parts per billion, recorded at a single air monitoring station at 6 a.m. Other monitors west of the fire have also measured increased readings of benzine of up to 14.9 ppb as of 10 a.m. TCEQ moved a temporary air monitoring station between the nearby neighborhood and the facility, and that station did not record any detectable levels of benzene as of 11 a.m. Short-term exposure to one-hour benzene concentrations below 180 ppb are not of health concern.

TCEQ’s emergency response team and regional staff continue to monitor air quality with handheld equipment, and EPA’s ASPECT airplane continues to provide air monitoring flights over the area.

Local government officials will use the data that TCEQ and others generate to further assess any necessary actions regarding public health.

TCEQ is working with EPA, the Coast Guard, and ITC’s contractor to assess impacts of firefighting foam on waterways adjacent to the facility. TCEQ’s contractor is sampling water from Tucker Bayou to the Houston Ship Channel and at drainage outfalls adjacent to the facility. Samples have been submitted to a certified water laboratory; however, results can take between 24 and 72 hours to be processed and finalized.

When the site is safe to access, TCEQ will coordinate any cleanup that ITC is required to conduct. TCEQ will monitor the progress of the cleanup and ensure that any impacted areas are handled appropriately.

See TCEQ’s ITC Fire Incident webpage for updates concerning this response, including trending graphs and a map with real-time data from TCEQ’s stationary ambient monitoring sites via GeoTAM.