On Sunday, March 17, 2019, a fire started at the Deer Park ITC facility. The fires spread to a total of 8 storage tanks holding NAPHTHA, XYLENE, and TOLUENE. These chemicals are components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner.National Guard troops have been called in, and residents of Deer Park and Galena Park have been told to Shelter-in-Place after elevated levels of benzene were detected early this morning near the ITC facility.
Benzene is a widely used chemical that is a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. It is a colorless liquid with a sweet odor. Breathing benzene vapor in small amounts can cause headache, dizziness, drowsiness, or nausea. With more serious exposure, benzene may cause sleepiness, stumbling, irregular heartbeats, fainting, or even death. Benzene vapors are mildly irritating to the skin, eyes, and lungs. The elderly, children, pregnant women, those who have respiratory issues and those who are immunosuppressed may be especially impacted.
What does Shelter-in-Place mean?
Residents in affected areas should stay inside until further notice. Turn off air-conditioning and heating systems. Cover any gaps, cracks, or holes in your home using damp towels or plastic sheets and adhesive tape (if available).
The Harris County Public Health agency has issued a statement regarding potential symptoms or side-effects commonly related to exposure to these chemicals.
What are the most common symptoms?
Burning, irritation, and redness to eyes, nose, and throat
Please seek medical attention immediately if you are experiencing any of these symptoms or if they worsen. Benzene can be measured in the blood; however, since benzene disappears rapidly from the blood, this test is only useful for recent exposures. Benzene tests are offered through major commercial laboratories.
Mostyn Law is investigating the plant fires and offering legal advice to affected Houston residents. ITC has now opened a claims hotline for businesses and individuals who have suffered damages because of the plant fires. Be careful! Claim resolution at this time could be premature & negatively affect your legal rights. If you have suffered a significant personal injury or property damage, contact Mostyn Law to learn more about your legal rights.