DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed an environmental lawsuit against Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) over the fire at ITC's Deer Park chemical storage facility.
The lawsuit alleges that the fire, which began Sunday and burned for days, released air pollution in violation of the Texas Clean Air Act.
The fire caused the release of several air contaminants, including benzene. Most of the chemicals identified in the fire are used in the production of gasoline, and short-term exposure to their fumes can cause fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. Twice this week, residents of Deer Park and neighboring Galena Park were told to stay indoors because of concerns about unhealthy air quality. Those concerns also prompted Deer Park ISD and several other school districts to cancel classes for multiple days.
"The state of Texas works hard to maintain good air quality and will hold ITC accountable for the damage it has done to our environment," Attorney General Paxton said. "ITC has a history of environmental violations, and this latest incident is especially disturbing and frightening. No company can be allowed to disrupt lives and put public health and safety at risk."
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) continues to monitor the air quality in the affected areas about 20 miles east of Houston.
"I would like to thank the Attorney General for acting so quickly on TCEQ's request to enforce against ITC, LLC," stated TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker. "Due to the dynamic, ongoing investigation of this incident, only air quality violations have been cited in the state of Texas lawsuit against ITC, LLC. Any additional violations, including surface water quality, will be referred to the Office of Attorney General for civil enforcement as part of this action."
The federal Chemical Safety Board, which investigates serious chemical accidents, announced Thursday that it is opening an investigation into the ITC fire.
Texas Attorney General files environmental lawsuit over ITC's chemical tank fire