Attorney Sues Intercontinental Terminals Company Over Fire

March 28, 2019

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan sues Intercontinental Terminals Company over tank fire in Deer Park, Texas

In Deer Park, Texas, Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan has sued Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) over the tank fire that began March 17 at their facility in Deer Park.

According to ABC 13, the Texas attorney general has already filed a lawsuit ITC.

Harris County Commissioners approved the lawsuit, which seeks a temporary restraining order and temporary and permanent injunctions in an environmental enforcement action, according to ABC 13.

According to ABC 13, the County Attorney charges that ITC is responsible for burning and air emissions in violation of the state's Clean Air Act, discharging industrial waste into nearby waters in violation of state law and county regulations, and violation of county floodplain regulations by not having development permits for structures at its facility.

"This company put the health of Harris County residents in danger in many ways for several days," Ryan said. "We will hold them responsible for their actions."

Harris County's Pollution Control, Emergency Management and Fire Marshall personnel responded to two tanks burning at ITC on March 17, according to ABC 13.  Over the next few days, more tanks caught fire, releasing air contaminants.

According to ABC 13, firefighting foam sprayed on the burning tanks by ITC and industrial wastewater were discharged into the surrounding water. A containment dike breached on March 22, allowing the discharge into Tucker Bayou, before the tank reignited.

Benzene also leaks from fire-damaged tanks and firefighting foam caused two local shelter-in-place advisories, according to ABC 13.

On Wednesday, officials gave updates on the clean-up efforts, with the U.S. Coast Guard saying that the Houston Ship Channel is back open from Tucker Bayou to light 116 for vessel traffic inbound and outbound.

According to ABC 13, the decision comes after 106 vessels were moved in and out of the area and only one required minor cleaning with hot water. It will be open during daylight hours only. The entire area had been closed since Friday due to oily product in the water.

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Image courtesy Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ).