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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 
yesterday 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 
5 days ago by dchas
Six years later: Learning from the West fertilizer plant explosion
WEST, Texas (KXAN) — Thirty minutes before sunrise on a chilly April morning, a bright yellow glow shines out of the windows of the red garage doors that line the front of fire station #2 in Georgetown. All is calm and quiet outside except for the birds singing up a storm.

They're not the only ones up and at 'em so early on a Monday. Several guys emerge from the garage and head to their cars. One crew is coming off a 24-hour shift as a fresh team of firefighters clock-in and start getting the trucks and ambulances ready for the unknown of what the day will bring.

Dylan Karl has a sticker commemorating those who died in the West explosion on his helmet (KXAN Photo/Erin Cargile)
Dylan Karl, 26, hangs his yellow fire suit up in his locker and sets his black helmet on top. You can see a white sticker on the side of it with black letters that read "For those that perished." Above the four words is the West Fire Department badge covered by a black strip that bears the date 4-17-13. That's the day 15 people were killed in an explosion in the small town north of Waco. Eleven of them were West volunteer firefighters.
The Georgetown firefighter and paramedic remembers pieces of that horrific day like it was yesterday. It was the biggest call of his life — one most first responders will never experience over a lifelong career. The second generation firefighter was ready. 
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental 
6 days ago by dchas
The Latest: State sues over Texas plant fire
The state of Texas has filed a court petition seeking action against a company whose plant caught fire near Houston.
1 employee was killed and 2 were injured badly in the fire in the KMCO chemical plant at Crosby.
The Texas Attorney General’s office filed the request on behalf of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in state district court in Austin.
Harris County had acquired an injunction against KMCO in 2009 that required the firm to pay $100,000 in civil penalties and also give researchers easy access to this plant and instantaneous notification of releases.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  death 
9 days ago by dchas
City Of Deer Park Says Level Of Benzene Detected In Water Supply Wasn’t Dangerous – Houston Public Media
The company testing Deer Park’s drinking water supply in the aftermath of the massive fire at a petrochemical facility owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) detected a trace amount of benzene, but the city says the reading was below dangerous levels.
Benzene is a dangerous chemical that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked to cancer.
The City of Deer Park posted the information on Twitter on Thursday saying they had received a notification from Environdyne Laboratories Inc. regarding a benzene detection in drinking water that was recorded on March 31.
Please see the attached update….
— City of Deer Park (@DEERPARKTXGOV) April 11, 2019
Nicholas Cook, supervisor of the Surface Water Plant, said the sample that tested positive was “at a level approximately five times lower than the drinking water standard.”
“Although we received reporting of the low-level presence for one day,” Cook said, “all of the results we have received show that our water is –and has been– safe for citizen consumption.” He added he contacted the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and confirmed that the trace amount of benzene detected “would not cause short-term or long-term health effects to residents.”
us_TX  public  follow-up  environmental  benzene 
10 days ago by dchas
Lawsuit: Hundreds of urine samples contaminated in transit following ITC fire
DEER PARK, Texas — Two Deer Park residents have filed a lawsuit against a third-party testing company claiming they contaminated urine samples after mishandling them during transit.

According to a court affidavit, Bruce and Rita Gale sought medical treatment at Community Health First Emergency Center on March 29 after “suffering symptoms consistent with chemical inhalation following the ITC industrial fire.”

During the fire at Intercontinental Terminal Co.’s Deer Park facility, area residents were ordered to shelter-in-place after action-levels of Benzene were detected by air quality monitors.

The plaintiffs said they submitted urine samples to be sent to a third-party testing facility to be tested for levels of Benzene exposure.

Their suit alleges they were told approximately 80 percent of the 500 urine samples couldn’t be tested due to contamination “yielded from LABCORPS mishandling of the samples during transit.”
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  benzene 
11 days ago by dchas
ITC impact: Annual festival celebrating Battle of San Jacinto...
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - For the first time in 80 years, the annual San Jacinto Day Celebration at the San Jacinto Monument has been canceled due to safety concerns after a fire at the ITC facility in Deer Park.

As the cleanup continues, worries about chemical contamination have forced the closure of two of the state’s most popular tourist attractions during what is usually their busiest time of year.

The celebration has been held April 21 every year since the monument was completed in 1939 to commemorate the battle of San Jacinto that won Texas its independence in 1836.

It’s grown to include a weekendlong festival and battle re-enactment, but not this year.

The fire and chemical release at the ITC plant put the monument, as well as the Battleship Texas moored nearby, in the danger zone. The road leading to both remains closed.
us_TX  public  follow-up  environmental 
11 days ago by dchas
Texas chemical plant employee charged in explosion in aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
DALLAS — Another senior employee at a chemical company is facing criminal charges connected to a 2017 explosion at a Houston-area plant following Hurricane Harvey.

Michael Keough, vice president of logistics for Arkema Inc.'s North American subsidiary, was indicted on felony assault charges tied to his actions ahead of a chemical fire and explosion at the company's Crosby facility, the Harris County District Attorney's office announced Wednesday. The company was also charged.

Keough falsely told officials that Arkema was monitoring potentially explosive chemical tanks in real time when the company had insufficient data to give early warning, according to District Attorney Kim Ogg. These "misrepresentations" led two sheriff's deputies to drive directly into a toxic cloud, which then spread to exposing others, she said.

An attorney for Keough, Dan Cogdell, called the indictment "absurd" and "beyond rational thought."
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  illegal 
12 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 
13 days ago by dchas
KMCO explosion in Crosby, Texas could have been prevented: Lawsuit
CROSBY, Texas (KTRK) -- Could the deadly blast at KMCO have been prevented? Three contractors who worked at the plant say yes.

"They absolutely knew about the leak... at least within the many minutes before the explosion," said Larry Wilson.

Wilson represents the three contractors who filed suit Monday morning.

These contractors are claiming in the suit that officials knew about a leak in a check valve that malfunctioned. That valve, according to the lawsuit, was connected to the butylene line.

"Obviously what they should have been doing at that point was calling a general alarm and evacuating people when they began to suspect a leak," said Wilson.

The lawsuit claims that authorities instead only went to investigate, and in that time the fire ignited

"The only way that you end up with flammable products outside of where they're supposed to be is because you at some point had a breakdown in the system," claimed Wilson.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  death  flammables 
14 days ago by dchas
KMCO Crosby fire and explosion: Temporary restraining order issued
CROSBY, Texas — The Crosby chemical plant that burned after an explosion earlier this week must stop all operations.  And they can’t start up again until an inspection is done by the Harris County Fire Marshal’s office.

The fire marshal’s office worked with the Harris County Attorney’s office to get a temporary restraining order following the explosion that killed one person and injured two others.

"The safety of the residents of Harris County is our number one priority," said Fire Marshal Laurie L. Christensen. "HCFMO collaborated with HCAO to request a TRO against the defendant to ensure regulatory enforcement of fire and life safety codes. We are grateful for the collaborative efforts as we work towards a safer Harris County."

The explosion and fire happened on Tuesday.  Twenty-seven-year-old James “Bubba” Mangum was killed when a transfer line ignited a tank full of a chemical called isobutylene. Two others were taken to the hospital.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  death 
16 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 
18 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 
19 days ago by dchas
Paxton files petition against KMCO after deadly chemical plant fire
AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a petition Tuesday hours after an explosion at a chemical plant near Houston left one dead, according to a press release from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. 

The chemical isobutylene exploded at the KMCO plant in Crosby late Tuesday morning and it took officials about six hours to extinguish the blaze after a transfer line ignited and a tank caught fire, according to reports by KPRC the NBC affiliate in Houston. 

According to an investigation from KPRC, the company KMCO owed a series of OSHA fines before and after the ownership change of the facility in 2012. The investigation found that KMCO paid $247,932 in fines to settle various safety violations.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental 
19 days ago by dchas
The Houston Area Has Had Two Chemical Plant Fires in Two Weeks. Why Do They Keep Happening?
On Tuesday, a fire erupted at a KMCO chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, killing one worker and leaving two others injured. This was the second Texas chemical fire in two weeks, following a blaze that began at a petrochemical storage facility in Deer Park on March 17th. While no injuries were reported, the Deer Park fire triggered widespread concerns about air quality in the area.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told the Associated Press that "it is disturbing and it is problematic that we're seeing this incident in a facility, especially on the heels of" the fire in Deer Park.

Here's what we know about the regulation of this industry.


In an op-ed published by the Houston Chronicle after the Deer Park fire, Elena Craft, the senior director for health and climate at the Environmental Defense Fund, criticized the lack of oversight by state agencies, writing that "the state agency responsible for ensuring chemical plant safety is missing in action—unable or unwilling to protect the health and well-being of Texas families." Craft argues that the Texas Commission on Environmental Air Quality, a state agency tasked with protecting the state's natural resources, has essentially let companies "self-regulate."

In 2016, a year-long Houston Chronicle investigation revealed that chemical plants across Houston, America's petrochemical capital, remain a pervasive and virtually unsupervised threat. According to the investigation, the Houston area has a chemical fire or explosion every six weeks on average.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental 
19 days ago by dchas
One dead, two injured in explosion, fire at chemical plant near Houston
One person has died and two others were badly injured in an explosion and fire Tuesday at a Crosby chemical plant in east Harris County. The explosion at the KMCO plant happened around 10:45 a.m.when a transfer line ignited a tank full of a chemical called isobutylene. The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office said the fire was contained by 4:20 p.m.
us_TX  industrial  explosion  death  unknown_chemical 
20 days ago by dchas
Toxic accidents database could improve emergency planning
Environmental groups say people living near industrial chemical facilities could soon get better information on what’s being spewed into the air around them when accidents happen. That’s thanks to a recent court ruling that ordered the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board to make certain facilities report accidental air emissions. Transparency around industrial accidents is a hot topic in Houston, Texas, at the moment, after a chemical facility fire sent smoke into the city’s air for days and closed part of a major shipping channel.
us_TX  public  discovery  environmental 
20 days ago by dchas
KMCO Crosby plant has long history of environmental, safety violations
One dead and seven injured. Millions in fines. Decades of lawsuits.

On Tuesday, the KMCO facility in Crosby became the latest Houston area chemical facility to be engulfed in flames. The company is also one of the region’s worst offenders of environmental and workplace safety laws, according to the Harris County Attorney’s office.

“As long as I’ve been doing environmental work for Harris County, I’ve been involved in case with this company, either with the previous owner or the current owner,” said Rock Owens, managing attorney for the Harris County Attorney’s environmental section. “And I’ve been doing this for close to 30 years. This company has been around forever causing trouble.”
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  unknown_chemical 
20 days ago by dchas
U.S. investigators to begin hunt for cause of Texas petrochemical disaster
HOUSTON (Reuters) - U.S. investigators hope this week for the first time to enter the site of a massive fuel fire and chemical spill outside Houston to begin the hunt for a cause and to determine whether the operator followed safety regulations.

The blaze, at Mitsui & Co's Intercontinental Terminals Co (ITC) storage facility in Deer Park, Texas, began March 17 and released toxic chemicals into the air and nearby waterways. Shipping along the largest oil port in the United States remained disrupted on Monday, as did operations at two nearby refineries.

Fumes from benzene-containing fuel and fear of another fire have prevented investigators from going into the tank farm's "hot zone," officials said Monday. Three tanks holding oils remain to be emptied this week, and responders continue to sop up fuels on the tank farm grounds.

Investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state and local authorities, plan to enter the site once it is safe.

Access to the site, along the Houston Ship Channel, will help determine what happened and how a fire at one tank holding tens of thousands of barrels of naphtha spread quickly to 10 other giant tanks.
us_TX  industrial  follow-up  environmental  oils 
21 days ago by dchas
Health District studies long-term impacts of deadly West explosion
WEST, Texas (KWTX) The Waco-McLennan County Health District has launched a follow-up study on the long-term health impacts on West residents following the deadly April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion.

“The study will provide information on residents’ behavioral health, respiratory health, and other conditions associated with the explosion,” officials said in a press release.

“The findings of this study could be useful for the policy makers, health care providers, and public health officials in understanding long-term consequences associated with such incidences,” officials said.

Residents may complete the survey online starting Monday and continuing until May 31.

Face-to-face interviews will be conducted with residents who don’t complete the survey online from April 22 to May 3 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The powerful explosion on April 17, 2013, left 15 dead including 12 first responders, injured more than 200 and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings including a nursing home, a two-story apartment building and three of West’s schools.
us_TX  public  follow-up  environmental  ag_chems 
21 days ago by dchas

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