Published: Thu, March 21, 2019

Massive Fire At Houston Petrochemical Storage May Last 2 More Days

Massive Fire At Houston Petrochemical Storage May Last 2 More Days

The National Weather Service office in New Orleans is warning drivers heading near Houston to look out for a large swath of smoke from a hazardous fire that started in a petrochemical storage facility in the area.

ITC initially said the fire had spread to eight tanks, but company official David Wascome scaled back the number Monday, saying one of the tanks was empty.

KPRC reported the fire is occurring at the Intercontinental Tank Company Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

The fire, which sent a plume of black smoke across the city's eastern half and was visible from 10 miles (16 km) away, began in a giant storage tank containing naphtha, a volatile component of gasoline, at about 10:30 a.m. (1530 GMT) on Sunday.No evacuations or injuries were reported.

"I worry when officials say no health effects are expected", Dr. Winifred Hamilton, Environmental Health Science director at the Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN affiliate KPRC-TV.

According to the City of Deer Park, the latest air monitoring results from a private air monitoring contractor indicate no detctions exceed recommended action levels and air readings were favorable.

The agency is providing updates, including a map with real-time data from stationary monitoring sites, online.

During a press conference Monday, ITC also released reporting issued by the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH), a third-party contractor hired to monitor air quality.

"The latest information available doesn't show levels beyond a threshold that would make this unsafe", she said. Officials estimated the plume rose 3,000 to 4,000 feet into the air.

Laurie Christensen, Harris County Fire Marshal, said it is not known when the fire could be extinguished or burn itself out.

"We've had pretty good success controlling the fire and keeping it off the rest of the tanks", he said.

A shelter-in-place order that had been issued Sunday for residents of Deer Park was lifted early Monday after air-quality tests conducted by a private contractor showed no unsafe levels of chemicals, according to the city. During the evening, Deer Park and La Porte ISDs along with San Jacinto College announced Wednesday classes are cancelled. State Hwy. 225 has reopened, however Independence Parkway is still closed in some portions.

A leak in the naphtha storage tank ignited and flames spread to nearby tanks overnight, ITC reported to a Texas regulator on Monday.

Low levels of "particulate matter" were detected early Monday, the company said, and "a single, volatile organic compound detection has been found 6 miles southwest of the facility".

Crews are using foam to try and contain the fire.

The company said the risk of explosion was "minimal".

"We're just kind of meant to believe the assessment that they've made", she said.

Craft said the formation of secondary pollutants like ozone is a concern. "ITC officials continue to work closely with first responders to contain the fire and to be transparent with the community regarding this incident".

This post has been updated.

ITC plans to provide another update Tuesday morning.

Like this: