ITC Deer Park: No levels of benzene detected in water in Deer Park

DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- Crews at the ITC Deer Park facility are working to empty the two million gallons of chemical inside a burned tank that leaked benzene.

The leak caused a shelter-in-place to be issued for the City of Deer Park, with Galena Park issuing its own order out of caution, after benzene was picked up on air monitors at the fire site and in the city limits Thursday.

Nearby school districts have also cancelled classes as a precaution.

Benzene is a colorless or light yellow liquid that smells sweet and is highly flammable. Exposure can cause dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, unconsciousness, and death (at very high levels).

The chemical is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke.

RELATED: What is benzene, the chemical detected at increased levels at the ITC facility in Deer Park?

Now officials are reinforcing the foam cap put on the damaged tank containing around 40,000 barrels of pygas, which has benzene in it.

In the next 8 to 10 hours, the crews will be moving the chemical inside the damaged tank to a more secure tank.

During this move, we could see another benzene release, according to officials.

Company officials say the foam cap put on the tank shifted, causing the benzene release Thursday.

ITC officials said that at 4:38 a.m. Friday they did have a benzene spike at a single monitoring station about 500 feet from the site of the fire. The levels measured 4.3 ppm.

The next closest monitoring site showed .5, while a next one showed 0. No shelter-in-place was required or appeared necessary, officials said.

According to Harris County Public Health (HCPH), and based on the current air monitoring reports, there's a low health risk for the community.

Meanwhile, residents who have legal questions can attend a town hall meeting hosted by McMillan Law Firm. The meeting will be Saturday at 2 p.m. on 4621 Center Street in Deer Park.

One lawyer who spoke to ABC13 says he's seen warning signs of potential trouble overlooked in the past.

"None of this ever happens out of the blue. This could have been seen coming a mile away, and I guarantee you somebody inside the company knew, should have known this was going to happen," said lawyer Sean Tracey.

SEE ALSO: ITC has few answers for community after Deer Park tank fires

Water test results from the EPA revealed that there's no evidence of benzene in the water.

"The city of Deer Park reports that run-off of foam and chemicals resulting from the fire response do not pose a threat to the quality of the city's drinking water. Drinking water is provided to the city by the Coastal Water Authority which draws from the Trinity River," a press release said.

The City of Deer Park reported that run-off of foam and chemicals did not pose a threat to the quality of the city's drinking water. However, Deer Park residents who use wells north of SH-225 should have their water tested before using.

The Chemical Safety Board is in Deer Park to look into the cause of the fire and if anything happened internally that led to the fire.

Follow Jeff Ehling on Facebook and Twitter.
Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.