The town of Deer Park, Texas issued a tent instead of Thursday due to airborne levels of the dangerous chemical benzene in the wake of a three-day fire at a petrochemical storage. Schools and some roads were closed.
Initially, Intercontinental Terminals Company told its employees to stay indoors after discovering "action" levels of benzene at its gas station southeast of Houston.
The ITC said a "chemical odor event occurred at our facility. At the moment, a little is aware of the community. We coordinate with local officials and work to resolve the issue as quickly as possible." [1
But that changed when Deer Park officials assessed the situation:
The ITC later said that beneze levels were "below those representing an immediate risk … … ITC respondents are actively working to reduce the cause that may be responsible for the elevated readings. "
The flame hit several storage tanks at the plant and burned from early Sunday to early Wednesday and sent a large, dark plume of smoke Thousands of feet in the air.
It caused concern about air quality among some residents and environmental groups despite assurances from officials that testing did not show anything wrong under the fire and immediately after it was turned off.
The tanks that caught fire contained components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glue and paint thinner. The ITC said 11 out of the 15 storage tanks in the area where the fire occurred were damaged.
The flame rose quickly late Wednesday afternoon. Flare-up, which sent flames and smoke into the air, was contained within 30 seconds of firefighters, the city of Deer Park said in a tweet.
Before Thursday, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency carried out air quality tests throughout the Houston area, both on the ground and from a small aircraft, and "does not measure any levels of hazardous concentrations," said the agency's official Adam Adams.
EPA & # 39; s also reviewed data collected by ITC, Harris County, where Houston is located, and by the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, and that data did not show dangerous concentrations of volatile organic compounds, Adams says.
The state environmental agency said in a statement on Wednesday that the petrol levels found near and around storage space do not pose a health concern.
However, some residents living close to the warehouse said on Wednesday that they do not trust the results of the air quality test.
"Everything has been packed into this lovely perfect bow by saying that there were no problems. Each air quality was perfect. Whatever the wind was perfect to blow it away. And if everything was so perfect why was it done? Long-time Deer Park resident Terri Garcia said
Bryan Parras, an organizer in Houston with the Sierra Club, said that some residents living near the facility have experienced various symptoms since the fire, including headaches, nausea He said his environmental group has concerns, not just about air quality, but about potential impacts on the environment and the fishing industry, if chemicals from the storage or foam are used to fight the fire, leaked into the Houston Ship Channel, leading to the Gulf of Mexico.