FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: March 26, 2019
UPDATE 24: Unified Command continues ITC Fire clean-up operations
HOUSTON – The Coast Guard Captain of the Port has lifted the restriction on cargo operations in the Houston Ship Channel that were in place from the Cargill Facility East to Cemex USA between Houston Ship Channel Light 139 and Houston Ship Channel Light 129. If at any time a safety risk to operations becomes evident, the Captain of the Port will act to ensure safety of port operations and mariners on the water.
The San Jacinto River is open for vessel traffic during daylight hours only. The Houston Ship Channel remains closed to traffic between Tucker Bayou and HSC Light 116 with the exception of coordinated vessel movement by the Coast Guard.
The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) recommends people not eat fish from the upper Houston Ship Channel. A fish consumption advisory, in effect since 2013, for most of the upper ship channel, warns against eating any species of fish or crab, especially by children and women of childbearing age. The advisory urges women past childbearing age and adult men who choose to consume fish caught there to eat no more than one meal per month. Health officials continue to assess new information and will update this guidance as needed.
Since March 17, air monitoring has been conducted continuously in the community, and any hazardous levels or parameters are being reported immediately to Unified Command and disseminated to stakeholders and local authorities for appropriate community response actions.
The Harris County Health Department (HCPH) has reported that based on current health-related data from multiple sources, there continues to be overall a low health risk for the general public. Those who had been in close proximity to the chemical terminal may have had greater sensitivity to changes in the environment related to the fire. Children, elderly, those with certain chronic health conditions or immunosuppressed, etc., may be more susceptible. HCPH recommends that any individuals who have health concerns should contact their healthcare provider or if more serious, call 911. If you do not have a health care provider, the Harris Health System’s ‘Ask My Nurse’ helpline remains open to help answer health questions. The number is 713-634-1110. For more information, go to http://www.hcphtx.org/Newsroom/Press-Releases.
ITC operational personnel continue to transfer product from 80-10 and plan to begin emptying tank 80-13 once operations are complete on 80-10.
Tanks 80-7 and 80-14 are empty and secure.
Response personnel are still foaming the tank farm as needed to maintain at least a 2-foot level of foam and pumping a mix of firefighting foam, water, and remaining product from the ditch using vacuum trucks and hoses. The mix is being transferred to tank 100-28.
Tucker Bayou and the water adjacent ITC piers remain the primary impacted areas and the product is contained within booming. As of 4:30 p.m., Monday, overflights confirmed that the western leading edge of the product is located at Buffalo Bayou and the eastern leading edge is at Terrace Park, with pockets of additional product in the vicinity of Lynchburg Ferry, San Jacinto Port, and portions of Old River.
Booms are deployed, covering Tucker Bayou, the ITC docks, Patrick Bayou, Old River, Carpenter Bayou, Battleship Texas, Santa Ana Bayou, the western shore of the mouth of the San Jacinto River, and the oyster beds located in Burnett Bay.
As of 6:45 a.m. on March 26, the on-land response has removed approximately 33,394 barrels (1.4 million gallons) of product mixed with water and firefighting foam from the tank farm. Approximately 12,897 barrels (541,000 gallons) of oily water mix has been removed from the waterways.
Since March 19, 2019, more than 1,100 federal, state and local first responders, agencies, and environmental cleanup contractors have been on the scene and actively assessing, booming and continuing to remove product from affected areas.
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