EPA, TCEQ Respond To Chemical Spill After Houston Warehouse Fire

Clean-up is expected to continue through this week.

By Florian MartinMay 12, 2016 9:30 am, ,

From Houston Public Media:

Clean-up crews have contained a large part of the chemicals that spilled into Spring Branch Creek after a massive fire that destroyed a warehouse on Laverne Street.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency leads the response to the chemical spill. The EPA and several state and local agencies are part of the Unified Command that was set up after the fire.

It includes the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the city of Houston, and Harris County.

Chris Ruhl with the EPA’s emergency response team said they are now waiting for results from samples that were taken from the creek.

“We know that there was a red oil-type substance that was floating on the creek, and that is what EPA is focused on and TCEQ focusing on removing currently,” he said.

He said according to the owner, that substance is a fuel additive. It was stopped by boom about a mile downstream from the warehouse site.

Also stored in the A-1 Custom Packaging warehouse were veterinary balms and bug repellent. And investigators are trying to find out what other chemicals are on site.

“And when that investigation is done, the determination will be made in terms of what types of inventory may have needed to be shared and shared with whom,” Ruhl said.

Clean-up crews are working on containing smaller pockets of chemical runoff in the water. Ruhl hopes they will finish by the end of this week.

The EPA is also monitoring the air in surrounding neighborhoods and at Oak Valley Elementary School. There’s still a smell in the air, but no elevated levels of hazardous chemicals have been found.

Texas Parks and Wildlife is assessing the impact on animals, such as fish, turtles and snakes. They want residents to report affected wildlife, but ask residents not to handle any animals themselves.