Five water pollution charges filed in March terminal fire in Houston
HOUSTON – Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced that her office filed five environmental criminal charges Monday against Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), whose Deer Park refinery tanks caught fire on March 17.
“People living in Deer Park and the other neighboring residential areas near ITC’s plant deserve protection too,” Ogg said. “When public health is at risk, it’s a public safety concern.”
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.
The Environmental Crimes Division’s review of the evidence demonstrates that the water pollution in Tucker Bayou was at criminal levels from March 17 through March 21, establishing probable cause to believe that the company should be criminally charged for each day it violated the law.
“The discharge from the ITC fire into Tucker Bayou is a clear water pollution case,” said Environmental Crimes Division Chief prosecutor Alex Forrest. “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.”
ITC could face a fine of up to $100,000 per each of the five charges filed.