St. John Barned-Smith
The Harris County District Attorney’s office has charged Intercontinental Terminals Company with five counts of water pollution, Kim Ogg announced Monday.
ITC’s Deer Park petrochemical storage tanks caught fire in mid-March. The days-long conflagration created a thick plume of toxic smoke and chemicals that blanketed parts of greater Houston. The blaze led neighborhoods and schools to “shelter-in-place,” prompted to the temporary closure of the Houston Ship Channel, and raised concerns about air and water quality in the area.
“The discharge from the ITC fire into Tucker Bayou is a clear water pollution case,” Environmental Crimes Division Chief Alex Forrest said, in a news release announcing the charges. “We are looking forward to reviewing the reports of other local and federal agencies, as they complete their investigations, so that we can determine if other charges will follow.”
The company is being charged with one count of water pollution for each day water pollution in Tucker Bayou was at criminal levels during the five day period from March 17 through March 21.
The company could face a fine of up to $100,000 per each of the five charges filed.
“People living in Deer Park and the other neighboring residential areas near ITC’s plant deserve protection,” Ogg said. “When public health is at risk, it’s a public safety concern.”
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