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Hazmat spill on Beltway 8 at Briar Hill closes toll lanes
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- An 18-wheeler with a ruptured fuel tank has closed toll lanes on Beltway 8 southbound at Briar Hill.

The hazmat spill began early Monday morning and is blocking all four toll lanes.

In the past, this has allowed even non-EZ tag users to use the toll road for free.
us_TX  transportation  release  response  petroleum 
4 hours ago by dchas
Houston chemical fires won’t spur new laws, for now
After three chemical fires ignited in a three-week period in the Houston area — spewing plumes of noxious black smoke into the air for days, shutting down schools and sending entire cities indoors to shelter in place — lawmakers say it’s too soon to know whether new laws are needed to improve prevention or emergency response.

Instead, state Sen. Carol Alvarado and Reps. Ed Thompson and Mary Ann Perez will wait on the results of investigations by agencies such as the Harris County Fire Marshal and U.S. Chemical Safety Board. The fire marshal’s office has said it’s too early to guess how long the inquiries may take. In five weeks, the legislative session ends.

“We can speculate all we want, but I want to see the report and then try to make whatever changes I view are necessary to keep the constituents safe,” said Perez, D-Pasadena, whose district includes some of Deer Park, where a petrochemical storage facility caught fire on March 17.

Still, environmental advocates say the lawmakers should be doing more to support existing bills that would increase accountability for polluters — and to quash bills the advocates say would decrease oversight of chemical companies and restrict local governments’ abilities to take them to court.
us_TX  public  follow-up  environmental  petroleum 
4 days ago by dchas
Urbana fire officials, IEPA work to contain chemical spill
URBANA, Ill. (WICS/WCCU) — Urbana fire officials were called to a hazardous material spill Monday, April 15 at the Boneyard Creek.

The incident occurred in the 200 block of South Gregory Street at 2:43 p.m. after what appeared to be a petroleum base sheen spilled into the creek.

Fire crews utilized absorbent booms across the Boneyard Creek to contain the spill.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) was also notified and called to the scene.

The IEPA arrived on site Tuesday morning and is still working with officials to manage the spill.

The original source of the spill was believed to be from contaminated water from a nearby construction site at 708 South Sixth Street in Champaign.
us_IL  public  release  response  petroleum 
5 days ago by dchas
Delving into Cultural Factors Can Improve Safety
Oil and gas organizations have significantly improved safety over the years, and evaluating a company’s safety culture can identify areas for further gains. But culture is hard to measure and even more difficult to change.

Over the past 10 years, ABS Group has conducted HSE/process safety culture evaluations involving more than 80 offshore assets in the Middle East, North Sea, North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. After a decade of evaluating data insights into the leading cultural factors that contributed to major offshore incidents, ABS Group formulated a next-generation root cause analysis (RCA) methodology and risk management tool called Cultural Cause Analysis (CCA). CCA supports organizations in knowing which changes in cultural factors have the largest positive impact to prevent future losses.

ABS Group believes CCA will allow organizations to create lasting changes that promote sustainable, outstanding performance in safety leadership. ABS Group’s new approach leverages 40 years of incident investigation, RCA and process safety management (PSM) expertise.
Mexico  industrial  discovery  environmental  petroleum 
9 days ago by dchas
Investigators to enter ITC tank farm for first time since...
PASADENA, Texas - It has been over a month since a massive fire broke out at the Intercontinental Terminals Co. in Deer Park.

After burning for multiple days and two flare-ups, crews were able to put the blaze out and begin the cleanup process.

n the following days, a benzene detection forced a shelter-in-place order for the area, nearby waters were polluted with oily residue from runoff and residents in Channelview even saw some flyaway foam landing in their yards. 

ITC was also hit with multiple lawsuits over the fire, including lawsuits filed by the Texas attorney general and Harris County.

According to the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office, investigators are expected to enter the tank farm Tuesday for the first time since the blaze erupted.

"Investigators will conduct an initial scene examination," said Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie L. Christensen. "Investigators will make entry into the tank farm with the appropriate level of personal protective equipment (PPE), which will include hazmat suits and air purifying respirators." 
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  petroleum 
12 days ago by dchas
Officials: Foul odor near Choctaw area no cause for concern
BATON ROUGE - The fire department says a strange odor near the Choctaw area Monday night is not dangerous, and nearby residents and businesses should not be concerned.

The foul smell was reported late Monday night near Kincaid Ave and Choctaw Drive. A spokesperson with the Baton Rouge Fire Department says waste oil products leaked from drums while being moved from a nearby warehouse.

HazMat was called to the scene.

Officials say there is no danger and a cleanup effort is underway.
us_LA  industrial  release  response  petroleum  waste 
13 days ago by dchas
Texas Deer Park fire risk still a reality, environmental chief says
The ominous black plume of smoke that hung over the Houston area for days last month may be long gone, but Texas' chief environmental regulator told a panel of state lawmakers on Thursday that the fallout from the blaze at a Deer Park petrochemical facility is in full effect — and that danger remains.

"It is an ongoing event. We're still in response mode," said Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, at a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Texas Ports.

He added: "If I’m completely honest, there's still a fire risk."

A fire broke out at a sprawling, waterfront tank farm operated by Intercontinental Terminals Company on March 17 and flared up again days later, prompting cities and school districts in east Harris County to issue shelters-in-place and cancel outdoor activities for fear of poor air quality. Lawmakers had already called for hearings on the incident — and the state had already sued ITC — when another Houston-area chemical plant caught fire earlier this week, resulting in one death and multiple injuries.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  injury  petroleum 
17 days ago by dchas
Lightning strike may have sparked tank fire in east Harris County overnight
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Fire crews responded to a tank fire in east Harris County believed to be caused by a lightning strike during overnight storms

The Crosby Fire Department say it happened just after 1 a.m. Thursday at a well site on Saralla Road north of Barbers Hill.

Three tanks small crude oil tanks containing a saltwater and oil mixture were involved.
us_TX  industrial  fire  response  petroleum 
18 days ago by dchas
Houston chemical disaster zone too hazardous for investigators
HOUSTON (Bloomberg) -- Intercontinental Terminal Co. is still trying to drain millions of gallons of volatile oil byproducts from tanks damaged in the four-day blaze that began on March 17. The ground around the tanks is also saturated in dangerous fluids, severely restricting access to the facility 20 mi (32 km) east of downtown Houston. On Friday, the company said they may be able to allow some access early this week.

ITC and its top executive, Bernt Netland, have been chastised by elected officials for their handling of the unfolding disaster that cast a mile-high plume of black smoke over the fourth-largest American city for days, paralyzed its eastern suburbs and severed Houston’s waterborne access to the Gulf of Mexico. Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen’s probe of the event has so far been restricted to off-site interviews.

“We haven’t been able to gain access to the site yet,” said Rachel Moreno, a spokeswoman for the fire marshal. “They’re still doing emergency operations and we need to wait until it’s safe for the investigators to go in.”

Benzene eruptions

Christensen’s investigators won’t enter the site until the remaining tanks are emptied and other hazards have been mitigated, Moreno said. Clouds of cancer-causing benzene have continued to waft over the disaster site as well as nearby factories and suburbs, including one early Friday, according to ITC.

Oil tankers and other ships headed for the manufacturing nexus along the Houston Ship Channel have been backing up in Galveston Bay and the Gulf because of runoff from ITC’s facility that polluted the waterway. The U.S. Coast Guard commander for the region said he doesn’t know when things may return to normal.

Almost 20 mi of rubber barriers have been deployed to halt the spread of the oily sheen and protect oyster beds. Ferry service in the area remains shut down and the annual re-enactment of the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto that won Texas independence from Mexico has been canceled.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  response  benzene  petroleum  runoff 
21 days ago by dchas
ITC Disaster A Stain, But Also An Opportunity For Petrochemical Industry – Houston Public Media
The fire at the ITC chemical storage facility in Deer Park put Houston and the petrochemical industry in the national spotlight.
“I think it absolutely has an impact on the perception of the industry itself,” said Rachel Meidl, fellow of energy and environment at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “And I think it is the obligation of the organization to strengthen and protect the public and the environment in which it operates.”
Meidl was previously the deputy associate administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
She said it’s going to be difficult for the industry to regain the public’s trust, but that it also provides an opportunity to improve government regulations and for the industry to strengthen its safety protocols.
She said lessons were learned from the Arkema plant incident in Crosby during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when toxic chemicals were found in the water after the plant flooded, caught fire and partially exploded.
“We have made changes in understanding flood site vulnerability and flood risk assessment and strengthening flood resiliency,” Meidl said.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  petroleum 
23 days ago by dchas
Coast Guard reopens contaminated section of Houston Ship Channel
HOUSTON - The United States Coast Guard reopened a section of the Houston Ship Channel on Wednesday that was closed last week after toxic chemicals seeped into it during a chemical fire at the Deer Park ITC storage facility.

Traffic is moving again within limits, but still far from being back to normal.

As cleanup crews continue to skim oily sludge along a seven-mile stretch of the ship channel, roughly from Tucker’s Bayou to Lynchburg, the Coast Guard reopened the contaminated area to ship traffic.

The section was closed March 22 after a fire and dike breach at the ITC facility sent an unknown amount of toxic chemicals into the channel.

"We’re largely moving but it's selected metered traffic. We’re moving traffic essentially in both directions, it's just one way at a time for ships. So, we ran a ship out this morning. Later today we’ll start seeing the first inbound ships above Lynchburg,” vessel traffic services director Steve Nerheim said.
us_TX  transportation  follow-up  environmental  petroleum  toxics 
25 days ago by dchas
Houston chemical distribution tank farm burns, cause unknown
The cause of a massive fire at a petrochemical storage and distribution facility near Houston remains unknown, more than a week after the blaze and resulting smoke and chemical releases resulted in shelter-in-place orders for residents and shut down the Houston ship channel. No workers were injured or killed.
In all, 11 above-ground chemical storage tanks, each with a capacity of 80,000 barrels (12.7 million L), caught fire on March 17 and burned for three days. Residents of nearby Deer Park, which abuts the Houston ship channel, were twice ordered to stay indoors, first because of the initial fire and chemical releases and then again several days later following more releases due to a containment dam breach. Also, throughout the week several smaller fires broke out but were quickly contained.
A 10-mile stretch of the busy ship channel remained closed as of C&EN’s deadline.
Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), a subsidiary of Mitsui & Co., owns and operates the large tank facility. It is one of two ITC terminal centers along the Houston ship channel.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  petroleum 
26 days ago by dchas
Houston Ship Channel partially reopened amid worst chemical disaster in more than a decade
HOUSTON and NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- A two-mile (3.2-km) stretch of the Houston Ship Channel’s that’s been closed for three days will be open during daytime hours while the clean-up continues. Pilots have been ordered by the U.S. Coast Guard to stay at least 30 min apart so each vessel can be inspected to ensure it’s not dragging oily residue through the water.

The partial reopening means that oil refiners, chemical makers, grain exporters and other industries in Houston’s eastern suburbs are no longer cut off from the Gulf of Mexico and international markets. The Port of Houston handles more than $130 billion in trade annually. Industrial chemicals are by far the largest bulk commodity traversing the waterway, followed by petroleum coke and grain.

More than 30 ships were stranded earlier Monday on either side of the no-go zone as the unfolding Intercontinental Terminals Co. calamity entered its second week, according to Coast Guard figures. Royal Dutch Shell Plc slowed fuel production at its Houston-area refinery because of the disruption to waterborne crude deliveries, Reuters reported.

ITC achieved a significant milestone Sunday in emptying more than half a million gallons of toxic liquid from an onshore tank wrecked in the four-day blaze that erupted March 17 and sent a mile-high plume of black smoke skyward. As of Monday morning, five tanks had been emptied and two more were targeted for draining.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  petroleum 
27 days ago by dchas
Texas Tank Fire Could Boost Scrutiny For Proposed Oil Storage
The fire at a petrochemical storage site at Deer Park, Texas, which blazed for days and halted some ship traffic at the Houston port, has intensified calls for increased scrutiny of oil and fuel storage facilities, potentially requiring tougher regulations for many proposed oil storage terminals along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

A fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) that started on Sunday, March 17, continued until Wednesday and prompted many state agencies to start looking into the reasons of the incident. Residents of Deer Park and Galena Park were told twice last week to stay indoors, and schools canceled classes for several days.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed on Friday an environmental lawsuit against ITC seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties in connection with the fire at the petrochemical site.

“The state of Texas works hard to maintain good air quality and will hold ITC accountable for the damage it has done to our environment,” Attorney General Paxton said. “ITC has a history of environmental violations, and this latest incident is especially disturbing and frightening. No company can be allowed to disrupt lives and put public health and safety at risk,” he added.

The federal Chemical Safety Board said last week that it would investigate the fire, which engulfed 11 above-ground storage tanks.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  petroleum 
27 days ago by dchas
Houston Ship Channel closure halts oil refiners
HOUSTON (Bloomberg) -- The Houston Ship Channel won’t reopen until the U.S. Coast Guard verifies that a cloud of cancer-causing benzene has dissipated and oily runoff from the region’s worst chemical disaster in 14 years poses no threat to vessels or their crews.

Oil refiners, chemical manufacturers and grain exporters in Houston’s eastern suburbs are cut off from Gulf of Mexico shipping as the unfolding Intercontinental Terminals Co. calamity enters its second week.

ITC achieved a significant milestone early Sunday in emptying more than half a million gallons of toxic liquid from an onshore tank wrecked in the four-day blaze that erupted March 17 and sent a mile-high plume of black smoke skyward.

The Coast Guard plans to move a test vessel through the channel’s two-mile-long no-go zone to determine whether ship traffic can resume without disrupting efforts to skim gasoline ingredients that spilled into the waterway, Lieutenant Commander Jason Toczko said. He declined to estimate when the channel will reopen or specify when the test vessel will launch.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  petroleum 
28 days ago by dchas
Black plumes replaced by cancer-causing benzene fumes in Houston after chemical fire extinguished, as expected
HOUSTON (Bloomberg) -- Even after the four-day fire is out at a Houston-area chemical storage complex, the real danger has emerged.

Cancer-causing benzene wafted across suburbs of the fourth-largest U.S. city Thursday, shutting roads, schools and industrial plants, and disrupting normal life for half a day. A major oil refinery in the heart of North America’s most important fuel-producing region told workers to stay home and the Texas National Guard deployed troops to assist with air monitoring. The benzene probably arose from charred chemical tanks as overnight winds stirred remnants of their contents, owner Intercontinental Terminals Co. said.

Even after the working-class suburb of Deer Park rescinded an order telling everyone to shut their windows and stay inside around lunchtime, the reprieve may be temporary, scientists warned. Warm temperatures that are swirling the air and dispersing toxic fumes will disappear after sunset, potentially allowing benzene to settle at ground level, said Jeff Evans, the meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service’s Houston office.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  benzene  petroleum 
4 weeks ago by dchas
Texas attorney general files lawsuit against company where chemicals burned for days
Texas has filed a lawsuit against a company where petrochemicals burned for days and sent thick, black clouds of smoke wafting over the Houston area.
Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the environmental lawsuit against Intercontinental Terminals Company on Friday in order to seek "injunctive relief and civil penalties" in connection with the fire. The fire, which began last weekend, briefly reignited at the same time Paxton was announcing the suit.
(MORE: As immediate threat passes, activists say Deer Park chemical fire brings attention to persistent issues)
The company is involved in the production of gasoline and the fire released multiple chemicals in the air, including benzene, according to the attorney general. The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday morning there had been no detection of benzene in the air as of Thursday, however, it's unclear if the reignition changed that.
"The state of Texas works hard to maintain good air quality and will hold ITC accountable for the damage it has done to our environment," Paxton said in a statement. "ITC has a history of environmental violations, and this latest incident is especially disturbing and frightening. No company can be allowed to disrupt lives and put public health and safety at risk."
us_TX  public  follow-up  environmental  petroleum 
4 weeks ago by dchas
Egypt: At least eight killed in chemical blast
At least eight people have been killed in an explosion at a chemical plant in Egypt, local security forces say.
Reuters news agency quoted them as saying that a further five people were injured as a tank exploded at a military-owned phosphates factory in the port of Ain Sokhna.
Civil defence forces cordoned off the area around the factory and the injured were taken to local hospitals.
State news agency Mena said the tank had exploded during testing.
It reported that 15 people were killed or injured.
Two medics told the AFP news agency that 10 bodies had been received at a morgue in Suez and families of victims had gathered outside.
Ain Sokhna is about 130km (80 miles) south-east of the capital Cairo. Popular with tourists, the Red Sea coastal town is also home to several petrochemical, ceramics and steel factories.
Egypt  industrial  explosion  death  petroleum 
4 weeks ago by dchas
Deer Park fire reignites crisis of confidence in TCEQ [Opinion]
Not again.

That was my first thought Sunday after a large fire at a petrochemical storage facility sent a thick plume of black smoke over Houston. It started less than 24 hours after a blaze at ExxonMobil’s Baytown refinery.

Sadly, this March madness is a never-ending story here. The Houston Chronicle in 2016 reported that the region has a chemical fire or explosion every six weeks on average.

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I am sure someone will dismiss this as the unavoidable byproduct of being the nation’s petrochemical capital. That is simply not true. Chemical fires and explosions are largely preventable. So why do they continue to happen?
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  petroleum 
4 weeks ago by dchas
Houston-area chemical fire expected to burn for days
HOUSTON — A fire at a Houston-area petrochemical storage site continued to rage late on Monday and is expected to burn for up to two more days, officials said, sending thick black smoke into the air for miles around.

Firefighters were making progress seeking to contain the blaze at Intercontinental Terminals Co (ITC), with the number of giant storage tanks on fire reduced to six from seven earlier, said ITC spokeswoman Alice Richardson.

The blaze at a site along the Houston Ship Channel in Deer Park, Texas, began Sunday when a leak from a tank containing volatile naphtha ignited and spread to others in the same complex, the company said. The tanks hold tens of thousands of barrels of products used to boost gasoline octane, make solvents and plastics.

The blaze has not disrupted nearby refineries or shipping at the country's busiest petrochemical port, authorities said. The Houston Ship Channel is home to nine U.S. oil refineries that process 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd), or 12 percent of the national total.
us_TX  industrial  fire  response  petroleum 
4 weeks ago by dchas

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