Warehouse fire chemicals still not identified

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The Envrionmental Protection Agency has yet to identify exactly what burned during last week's massive warehouse fire. (KTRK)

The flames may be long gone, but on the 1700 block of Laverne Street, debris still clings to the ground and smells still hang in the air.

"You can smell it, I mean come out here anyone can smell it, it's bad," said Willie Gonzalez, who grew up across the street from the plant that burned. He was here last week when the fire began, even capturing hours of fire video.

Now, he is worried about the water and air quality. So much so that his family, even the dog, is now living at a nearby hotel.

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Dead animals litter the banks of Spring Branch Creek following last week's four-alarm fire.

"I'd like some answers. That's really what's got me frustrated because, you're gonna tell me that this has happened and you guys can't take a little bit of hour time and tell us, hey maybe you guys shouldn't breath this? The EP you would think, they've been here since this has happened but they haven't told us anything so we don't know."

Last Friday, Eyewitness News gathered some water from a nearby bayou that ran red after the fire and sent in the sample for testing. Today, the results were returned and we asked Rice University Environmental Science & Chemistry expert Dr. Pedro Alvarez looked through the data.

Dr. Alvarez says while the results rule out many pesticides, it doesn't conclusively say there's no problem. That's because nobody has publicly specified the exact names of chemical compounds that were processed at the plant.

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"There is no substitute here for knowing what was spilled," said Dr. Alvarez, who says testing by the public can be inconclusive unless testing companies are given more specific guidelines on what to look for. "They need to know. That information is available somewhere. We just need to find it."

So far, neither the Houston Fire Department, the Texas Department of Environmental Quality nor the federal Environmental Protection Agency have released specific chemical names, which means Alvarez can only give general advice.

"I think if people feel nausea, or other symptoms of intoxication, they need to go see a doctor."

Related Topics:
building fireenvironmental protection agencyhouston fire departmentchemical spillHouston
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