Classes Canceled Again Near Site Of Texas Chemical Fire

Barbara Schwarz
March 22, 2019 - 8:54 am
School Bus

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HOUSTON (1080 KRLD) - Authorities continue to monitor the air in Deer Park near Houston following a fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company.  

The Deer Park, La Porte and Pasadena ISDs have again cancelled class Friday (3/22) due to the possibility of unhealthy emissions, specifically benzene,

Elizabeth Perez with Harris County Public Health says at one point, multiple chemicals had been on fire.   "When there's a fire, the chemicals are actually burning so there is black smoke.  When that was happening, because heat rises, everything was going straight up into the air and that black plume of smoke was trapped high up in the atmosphere.  However, the chemicals, specifically the benzene, quickly evaporates."

She says the facility itself and seven different partners are monitoring the air quality, government and private both.  Crews put a foam blanket on top of the tanks to keep the chemicals contained, but there was a breech in that foam blanket.   "The benzene is no longer at that combustible rate because there's no heat applied, so the vapor leaks and just sits there."

There are do's and don't  you should come into contact with soot or residue from the smoke:

  • Do not touch any substance, residue, or particles from the plume .
  • Wash your hands and exposed skin with soap and water thoroughly for 3-5 minutes if you have come in contact with residue/particles.
  • Bathe your pet while, wearing gloves, if they have come in contact with reside/particles from the fire.
  • Move your pet indoors to reduce contact with any substance, residue, or particles from the plume.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you feel you or a loved one are experiencing any related symptoms.
  • Check on elderly neighbors or those who you are concerned about.

She says there are groups that are collecting samples of ash for testing, but none of the results have come back.