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Petrochemical Fire in Deer Park, Texas, Pollutes Water and Air Around Houston


A mile-long plume of smoke frightened families in and around Deer Park, Texas, on March 17. Shortly after 11 a.m. a shelter-in-place alert was issued to residents in Deer Park as a petrochemical fire raged at a nearby storage facility for Intercontinental Terminals Co. The fire burned for three straight days, emitting hazardous chemicals and by-products into the air and into the local water supply.

What Caused the Fire?

Officials have not yet deduced what started the fire, but here’s what happened: on March 17 two tanks at the facility began burning, and by March 18 seven tanks were actively on fire. The fire burned out after three days, but a few days later the fire re-erupted and burned through more tanks onsite.

During the second fire a wall was breached at the facility and liquid toxins dumped into the Houston Ship Channel while airborne hazards continued to emit from the facility and waft into nearby neighborhoods. Weeks passed before officials could even gain access to the site due to the volatile by-products and chemicals present.

What Contaminants Were Released?

Benzene was the immediate cause for alarm — the release of benzene into the air during the initial fire is what prompted the shelter-in-place alerts. Benzene is primarily made from petroleum and is used to manufacture rubbers, synthetic fibers, pesticides, and Styrofoam.

Short-term health affects of being exposed to benzene include headache, dizziness, nausea, tremors, and loss of consciousness. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services reports that long-term exposure to benzene can cause “permanent suppression of bone marrow functioning so that few new blood cells are formed, a condition known as aplastic anemia.”

The state of Texas is suing ITC for violating the Texas Clean Air Act and for compromising the quality of surface water in the area. The Sierra Club issued a statement expressing concern that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), manmade chemicals including PFOA, PFOS, and GenX, were used in the extensive firefighting measures and have now contaminated the waterways and public drinking water supplies in Houston and Deer Park.

Industrial and military sites are the primary sources of PFAS contamination. Exposure to PFAS contaminants in your drinking water poses many health risks. If you or your family members are exposed to PFAS contaminants in your drinking water your risk of developing cancer, kidney disease, thyroid conditions, and autoimmune disorders will increase. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to PFAS contaminants like PFOA and PFOS.

What Can I Do?

Homeowners concerned about the quality of their drinking water can take immediate steps to limit their exposure to these harsh chemicals and contaminants. Our Countertop Drinking Filter System is certified to remove dangerous chemicals like PFOA and PFOS, and at such a low price you can easily order a system to protect your family if you live in the Deer Park area. This state-of-the-art countertop system is a cost-effective way to deal with common contaminants like PFAS contaminants, THMs, chloramines, and cysts.

Activated carbon treatment is also an effective method of reducing industrial chemicals in home drinking water. Families that can afford multiple stages of treatment can pair a Whole House Water Filter with a Countertop Drinking Filter System in the kitchen. A Whole House Water Filter uses activated carbon media and other treatment stages like a sediment pre-filter to reduce as many contaminants as possible before you come in contact with your drinking water. Choose filtration from Pelican Water and rest easy with cleaner, purer water.

Pelican Combo System Salt-Free Water Softener Whole-House Water Filter