ITC has few answers for community after Deer Park tank fires

DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- Thursday, we heard another tearful apology from the company at the center of this mess. Intercontinental Terminal Company spokesperson Alice Richardson told reporters through tears, "ITC cares. We care a lot. We have been good stewards, we've been good neighbors... We will fix it and we will make this right."

As a reminder, the company is a 'good neighbor' who had a four-day fire and a benzene leak on the fifth day, trapping their neighbors inside Thursday morning.

Before and after her tears, ITC's Richardson had few answers to the questions this community has.

13 Investigates' Ted Oberg asked Deer Park resident Michael Rodriguez, "When's the right time for the company to tell people in Deer Park what they're doing to clean this mess up and how it's happening?"
Rodriguez responded, "As soon as it starts happening and they haven't."

Deer Park - in the heart of refinery row - is no stranger to petrochemical incidents, and many residents suggest they are usually patient and understanding with companies in the midst of response. There were signs Thursday patience is evaporating.

Melissa Dalton, another resident who lived under the smoke cloud for the better part of the week asked, "Is this going to happen again? What are we going to do to prevent this from happening again? Are we safe?"

When asked how confident she was that ITC has that answer, Dalton replied, "Not very confident right now."

When asked about the health impacts, ITC's Richardson answered, "I am not a health expert, so I cannot do that."

Water test results, specific clean up measures including how long to remove the chemical in damaged tanks, proved mysteries at the company's Thursday news conference, too.

"We've heard a lot of 'I don't know's' today," 13 Investigates' Oberg asked Richardson. "With six school districts closed in two cities, sheltering in place, we need a little more of what you do know. If you can't tell us how long it's going to take to get the chemical out, how much chemical do you have in there?"

Richardson turned to the EPA representative, asking "Do you know that?"

Chemists say the only way to guard against another leak is to remove the chemicals.

The EPA's Adam Adams told reporters, "ITC is working as quickly as they can to, to resolve the issue."

Which put us back in the loop. When asked how long it would take to pump the troublesome chemical out, Richardson repIied, "I can't tell you an exact time frame."

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