HOUSTON — ITC, the Deer Park refinery tank company behind the massive March 17 chemical fire, has been hit with five environmental criminal charges, the Harris County District Attorney's Office announced Monday.
Intercontinental Terminals Company could face a fine of up to $100,000 per each of the five charges filed.
A leak in a tank manifold was determined to be the initial cause of the fire that burned for days. According to a University of Houston chemical engineer, a manifold functions much like a junction box. It regulates the flow of fuels from different pipes in and out of the storage tank.
Harris County DA Kim Ogg said following the fire, "the company’s makeshift dike broke, sending large (and still unknown) quantities of xylene and benzene, highly toxic chemicals, into Tucker Bayou, which flows directly into the Galveston Bay."
According to Ogg, the Environmental Crimes Division determined that the water pollution in Tucker Bayou was at criminal levels from March 17-March 21.
“People living in Deer Park and the other neighboring residential areas near ITC’s plant deserve protection too,” Ogg said in the statement Monday. “When public health is at risk, it’s a public safety concern.”
Late Monday afternoon, an attorney for ITC issued the following statement:
"Although we have not seen the charges, there is no question that there was a large fire and an enormous effort to extinguish it which resulted in a discharge into Tucker Bayou."
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