Tank fire runoff sparks concern on Galveston Bay

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- This has the potential to be an environmental catastrophe. A black sheen can be seen on the Houston Ship Channel after the days long ITC tank fires in Deer Park.

In Galveston Bay, residents and fishermen alike are disturbed by the thought of what runoff from the fire could do if it reaches the bay.

Bob Leonard has been a fisherman in the area for 50 plus years. He said the dark water is normal at the channel, but not like what is being seen at the ship channel.

"Oh wow, that is bad," Leonard said. "It could be a problem."

"Have you seen black in the water?" chief toxicologist Dr. Noreen Khan Mayberry asked.
"Yes," reporter Stefania Okolie admits.
"Okay, so then it's not contained," Mayberry said. "That means you definitely got contaminants in the water."

A number of gasoline and chemical components were burning in the fire since Sunday morning.

WATCH: Deer Park residents concerned about fire runoff
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Skyeye 13 was over the aftermath of the fire, which showed the runoff from the tank fires.

Wednesday, light steam and smoke lingers at the ITC facility. EPA officials said no hazardous levels were found in the air quality. But Dr. Mayberry said there should be major concern over what's possibly infiltrating the water from the runoff.

"All of the aquatic life, your seaweed, all the substrates that the lower aquatic life use to actually call their home, all that stuff is going to start to die," Mayberry said. "Depending on the levels."

The Houston Ship Channel flows right into Galveston Bay.

"It's a real big concern for customers wanting to eat fish," Leonard said.

For fishermen in the area, their livelihood comes from this very water.

"They key, I think, would be hopefully they contain and not let it get out into the bays," Leonard said. "The water clarity starts getting messed up."

They want answers, and they want them fast.

"That's our main concern, just getting the right information of what's really going on around here."

Follow Stefania Okolie on Instagram and Twitter.

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