ITC to resume pumping product from tanks after issue caused rise in benzene levels

DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- Product removal from the tank farm at ITC's facility will continue after pumping issues caused elevated benzene levels over the weekend, ITC incident commander Brent Weber said Monday.

Pumping was suspended as a result.

Over the weekend, the elevated levels prompted a shelter-in-place out of an abundance of caution for two nearby facilities, LyondellBasell and GEO Specialty Chemicals.

"I can just say that we understand the impact we're making to our businesses in the community. A lot of businesses have been in the Deer Park area for a long time, and we apologize for the impact. Our focus is just to resolve this issue and get this recovery and remediation effort completed as safely and as quickly as we possibly can," Weber said.

The focus is now to pump the tank farm back down and get the benzene numbers back to normal levels.

ITC says the tank farm is secured and has a light layer of foam, helping to bring down the benzene emissions for the last several hours.

Another area of concern has been a dolphin found dead in Seabrook and whether the death is related to the ITC incident. A second dolphin that was stranded has also been evaluated by the network.

"The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network assessed the situation and determined that it did not appear those dolphins were impacted by this incident," said Adam Adams, on-scene coordinator with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Meanwhile, there is still no firm timeline for the Houston Ship Channel to reopen to all traffic without restrictions.

Last Wednesday, the ship channel partially reopened for daytime operations.

So far, 64,000 barrels, which equates to about two and a half million gallons, of oil/water mixture have been removed from the water, U.S. Coast Guard Captain Rich Howes said.
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