Red chemicals from Spring Branch fire flushed from creeks, bayous

SPRING BRANCH, Texas – The Environmental Protection Agency is using extra water from fire hydrants to help flush out what's left of red chemicals that darkened the Spring Branch Creek after last week’s deadly warehouse fire. 

The EPA said roughly 3 miles of the creek were turned red by the chemicals.

Since Thursday, crews have been gathering samples from the water to determine what the chemicals are and to pump out the mess.

According to the EPA, there is also boom to prevent oil in the water from continuing to flow downstream. EPA officials said 100,000 gallons of oil and oily water have been collected.

The cleanup and the flushing are expected to last until the end of the week.

The EPA briefed the city council on its progress.

The agency also released a list of the chemicals that were being stored at Custom Packaging and Filling Co., which included pyrethrins (for insecticide), polyethylene-polypropylene glyccol monobutyl ether, phenol solvent naphtha, petroleum piperonyl, butoxide and ceylon.

Investigators are questioning whether Custom Packaging properly stored and had the proper permit to store chemicals inside the building at the time the fire broke out.


"The facility had not made notification to the city or the state in terms of what inventories of chemicals were on site," Chris Ruhl of the EPA said.

The EPA is continuing to work to determine the type of chemical that contaminated the waterway.

Channel 2 spoke with the company’s attorney, Jimmy Ashley, who said his clients have given the fire department, the EPA, and TCEQ info on what type of chemicals they have housed, but even they don't know the quantity just yet.

Ashley said company’s computers went up in flames, but the business has its inventory backed up on a server. They are currently working with an IT person on accessing that information, and when they do they will turn it over to officials.

Ashley said the company doesn’t have a timetable for that.

He said his clients have been transparent and have all the required permits for chemicals in their storage facility.

The company isn’t trying to hide anything and are also victims, he said.

Ashley said the owner is concerned about the company’s employees, some of whom have been with them for 12-15 years. Now they don't have jobs.

On Wednesday, Rep.Ted Poe address the House of Representatives in Washington D.C., and praised the Houston firefighters who responded to last week's chemical fire.

"These firefighters are to be thanked and appreciated. Firefighter courage and dedication to protecting us is part of what makes them a special breed," Poe said.

You can watch the video below or click here to see it.

Houston Firefighters Answer the Alarm

Houston firefighters answered the alarm—they always answer the alarm.

Posted by Ted Poe on Wednesday, May 11, 2016