DEER PARK, Texas – Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee secured a $900,000 settlement from the 2019 Intercontinental Terminals Company fire in Deer Park.
The ITC fire erupted when a tank containing a flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture caught fire and spread to additional tanks. The fire, which burned for several days, created a plume over the Houston area before it was extinguished. The fire caused local businesses and schools to close during the burn.
ITC was held accountable in the lawsuit for violating Harris County’s development regulations and producing pollutants into the county’s stormwater system.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office is also pursuing an environmental case against ITC for unlawful air emissions and water discharges without the county. The lawsuit was filed in Travis County due to Harris County’s recent law that takes away the county’s right to bring cases under state environmental laws where the state has already intervened.
Menefee released the following statement:
“The Harris County Attorney’s Office will use any tools available to hold the industry accountable at the local level. This is also a victory for taxpayers, almost $1,000,000 will be returned to the County. This is a sizeable settlement—one of the largest our office has achieved for this type of case. We will look at all angles to seek environmental justice and push these companies to follow proper preventative measures to avoid future disasters like this one.
“I also urge state legislators to revisit the law preventing Harris County from bringing environmental claims that affect its residents. Harris County should be allowed to pursue comprehensive actions against these polluters, and my office stands ready to do just that.”
An ITC spokesperson also released the following statement:
“ITC appreciates the significant resources incurred by Harris County during the incident response. Thus, we are pleased to have been able to work cooperatively with the County to find an amicable resolution to resolve its claims.”