Several ITC tanks close to being secured as product removal continues, officials say

DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- ITC tank 80-7, one of the tanks that caught fire and had a fuel blend inside of it containing benzene, has been emptied and secured, officials said at a press conference Monday morning.

The tank was packed with a possible 4.4 million gallons of pyrolysis gas, a fuel blend containing benzene, xylene and toluene, among other compounds.

Tanks 80-9, 80-14, and 80-15 have also been emptied and secured. The facility hopes to remove product from tank 80-10 by the afternoon, Capt. Kevin Oditt with the U.S. Coast Guard said. It will focus on emptying tank 80-13 Monday night.

Tank 80-11 is full but has lube oil inside and poses no emissions concerns, officials said.

In the last 24 hours, the Environmental Protection Agency says there have been no air monitoring detections or alerts that would warrant another shelter-in-place or closure of school districts.

Air monitoring began last week when an employee detected elevated levels of benzene, prompting concerns about the air quality.

The cleanup from the tank fire, benzene leak and flareups have forced the Houston Ship Channel to close, with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality confirming dangerous chemical levels in the waters near Buffalo Bayou and the Ship Channel over the weekend.

The Ship Channel remains closed.

Oditt said that over the weekend a tank ship went through the area to assess the impact to the recovery operations and ensure there was no visible oil on the hull. Oditt said the test was successful.

An additional tank ship and barge are scheduled to transit through the Ship Channel. Both will be visually inspected, and if there is any visible oil, they will be sent to a decontamination facility.

On Sunday, officials partially opened the San Jacinto River where it flows into the Ship Channel. No pollutants or oil were found in the water, Oditt said.

As a result, the San Jacinto River was opened Monday morning to two-way tow and barge traffic. Oditt says they will decide Monday afternoon whether they can have any additional ship or barge transits.

Officials say they continue to lay white foam on the tanks to prevent them from reigniting and to help with emission reduction.

Incident command added that its other goal is to clean up the ditches on ITC property that have collected contaminants.

Individuals and businesses who wish to be compensated from the tank fire can file claim forms.

As of Friday, 1,600 claim inquiries have been made, ITC spokeswoman Alice Richardson said.

SEE ALSO: Deer Park community seeks answers in midst of ITC facility fire cleanup

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