The city made available a Material Safety Data Sheet of the chemicals stored on the site. However, it is not a complete list because the company never reported to the state what they stored. In addition, city officials also don't know the amount of each chemical on site, because there is no proper paper trail.
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"This particular facility did not have a hazardous certificate of occupancy," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, "and it was not registered as a hazardous facility."
Turner said the last time the facility was inspected by the city was 2008.
Here is a list of what the city, state and federal authorities have been able to cobble together:
- Premium Pyrocide 175, which is used as a pesticide.
- Toximul 8320, which is described as a surfactant and used as an emulsifier.
- Tolad 3915, which is described as a corrosion inhibitor, used in the preparation of resins, dyes, explosives, pesticides, and plastics.
- Solvent 142-66, which is more commonly known as paint thinner, and is a flammable solvent.
- Synerpro PBO, which is described as an insecticide additive, used to make insecticides easier to apply.
- Primene Amines, which is used in a variety of lubricants & surfactants.
- Citronella Oil, which is a common repellent and considered a bio insecticide.
Several of the chemicals listed are combustible, and can be toxic after prolonged exposure. However, just exactly how dangerous the fire was, nobody knows. Again, that is because the company has not provided the specific quantity of chemicals.
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Debora Rodrigues, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Houston, told Eyewitness News in an email statement that the chemicals listed certainly raise concern.
"Exposure to phenol by any route can produce systemic poisoning. Phenol is corrosive and causes chemical burns at the contact site. Symptoms of systemic poisoning often involve an initial, transient CNS stimulation, followed rapidly by CNS depression. Coma and seizures can occur within minutes or may be delayed up to 18 hours after exposure. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, methemoglobinemia, hemolytic anemia, profuse sweating, hypotension, arrhythmia, pulmonary edema, and tachycardia."
Dr. Rodrigues cautioned the amount of harm really depends on the amount of chemicals.
"They have not provided us for example, with a listing of materials that were out at the facility, they certainly have not provided us with quantity out there. They have lawyered up," said a clearly frustrated Mayor Turner.
Turner and council members say they want to see increased inspections at the local level, and increased regulations at the state level. However, they admitted that will be a daunting process because enforcement and regulation cost money, and the State of Texas generally has not favored stricter regulations for chemical companies.
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