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ITC Deer Park fire: Here are the resources you need

Smoke rises from a fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company near the Deer Park School District's Abshire Stadium in Deer Park, Texas, on March 19, 2019. (Jeffrey Fountain via AP) (Associated Press)

HOUSTON – Looking for resources such as air and water quality monitoring, how to get help for health issues and how to file a claim in the wake of the Intercontinental Terminals Co. chemical fire in Deer Park? KPRC2 has you covered.

The ITC fire started March 17 and spread throughout the facility, engulfing nine of the 15 tanks in the area. It was put out around 2 a.m. March 20. 

Later that afternoon, the fire reignited after an explosion. Crews were able to put out the fire.

On March 21, benzene – a known carcinogen – was detected in the air, prompting more school closures and another shelter-in-place order. Though the shelter-in-place order was lifted, schools remained closed for the rest of the week. 

On March 22, there was a break in a dike wall near the facility's incinerated tanks. Hours after the break, two tanks and chemical runoff in a ditch caught fire, sending yet another plume of smoke over the Deer Park area.

The fire was contained and crews have been working to secure the site and prevent another reignition since.

Below is a list of resources and helpful links:

HOW TO CHECK AIR QUALITY LEVELS

You can check daily air quality in Houston and surrounding areas by visiting Airnow.gov. The website has data and forecasts from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, including the air quality forecast, current conditions and maps of your area. 

This is the TCEQ's current air quality conditions for Houston.

Harris County created a web page laying out the pollution control air monitoring for Deer Park. The map shows data collected from handheld monitors.

You can also download apps like AirVisual. This app gives you pollution alerts, helps you stay updated on air quality and shares current levels. Another air quality-tracking app is Plume Air Report.

HOW TO CHECK WATER QUALITY REPORTS

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, "the city of Deer Park reports that run-off of foam and chemicals resulting from the fire response do not pose a threat to the quality of the city's drinking water. Water in the municipal water system does not come into contact with the water impacted by the fire response. Laboratory testing of the city of Deer Park’s water revealed no evidence of benzene. The only volatile organic compounds detected were the total trihalomethanes at 14 micrograms per liter, which is well below the maximum allowed 80 micrograms per liter, which is a disinfectant byproduct.

"The area north of Texas 225 drains toward the Houston Ship Channel, which is not used by any public water system in the Houston area as a source for drinking water. Deer Park residents who use wells north of Texas 225 should have their water tested before using."

Click here to see the latest water quality reports.

WHAT ABOUT EATING FISH FROM THE CHANNEL?

The Texas Department of State Health Services on March 27 updated its fish consumption advisory that covers the Houston Ship Channel to recommend that no one eat fish from that area, rather than women past childbearing age and adult men limited to one meal per month. 

Click here for more information on the advisory.

HOW TO GET HELP FOR HEALTH ISSUES

Harris Health System opened its Ask My Nurse Hotline for concerned citizens who had questions about their health.

Clinically trained nurses are telling people if they need emergency assistance to go to the hospital and if they can wait, then they should see their primary care doctor or go to an urgent care center.

The hotline is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will be active for as long as it’s needed.

The number to call is 713-634-1110.

Symptoms could include coughing, difficulty breathing and burning, irritation and redness to eyes, nose and throat. People could also experience headaches, nausea or dizziness. 

Elderly people, pregnant women and children with respiratory issues or are immunosuppressed may be impacted. 

Memorial Hermann Hospital has a 24-hour phone number you can call: 713-338-7979.

Talk to someone you trust if you're feeling stress or anxious. Or you can contact the National Distress Line (call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746) offers 24/7 emotional support.

HOW TO FILE A CLAIM AGAINST ITC

"Claims have arisen as a result of the Sunday morning incident. If you believe you have suffered damage or loss as a result of the incident, you can go to http://itcclaims.com, download and fill out the appropriate claim form, and submit it with supporting documents using the following email address : incidents31719@itcclaims.com, or by mail to the following address:

ITC Claims
March 17, 2019 Incident
P.O. Box 698
Deer Park, Texas, 77536

Businesses and residents can also call the ITCCares telephone hotline at 346-263-9766. Please note that there are separate claim forms for businesses and individuals.

HELPFUL LINKS:

Harris County website
https://www.readyharris.org/Deer-Park-Fire

Deer Park city website
http://www.deerparktx.gov/1778/ITC-Fire

ITC website
https://itcresponse.com/

EPA website
https://response.epa.gov/ITCTankFire

TCEQ website
https://www.tceq.texas.gov/response/itc-terminal-fire-update

Harris County Public Health website
http://www.hcphtx.org/Newsroom/Press-Releases