ITC Deer Park fire: Texas AG Ken Paxton’s office, US Department of Justice settles on $6.6M fine for chemical plant disaster

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) — More than five years after a massive fire burned at the Intercontinental Terminals Company chemical plant in Deer Park, the facility reached a $6.6 million settlement with the state and federal government.

The ITC fire that ignited back on March 17, 2019, burned for three days on Independence Parkway just north of Highway 225, sending plumes of black smoke into the air and prompting a shelter-in-place for residents. Multiple investigators found that the fire had a detrimental impact on the environment in and around the Deer Park area.

State officials said the fire released hundreds of thousands of barrels of petrochemical products, firefighting water, and foam into Tucker Bayou and surrounding waterways, such as the Houston Ship Channel. The fire also damaged ecological resources and habitats, such as marsh areas, riparian areas, and birds.

RELATED: 2 years after ITC fire, leaders speak on environmental effects

Consequently, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Justice filed a proposed consent decree against ITC, which can be thought of as a legally binding performance improvement plan. As a result, ITC agreed to pay a $6,645,000 settlement to compensate the public for natural resource injuries and agency costs.

In a statement, an ITC spokesperson wrote in part:

“Following the fire, ITC worked collaboratively with state and federal authorities to resolve claims related to natural resource damages. We are pleased to reach resolution of these claims, and we are committed to continually implementing enhancements to the safety, environmental integrity and emergency response capabilities at the terminal.”

Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office said the settlement money will be used to implement natural resource restoration projects to address ecological injuries and recreational use projects intended to handle human-use impacts. The state of Texas still has an environmental enforcement lawsuit pending against ITC.

The AG’s office is seeking public comments on the settlement for 30 days from publication of a settlement notice, which will appear in the Texas Register.

ITC previously settled a separate lawsuit with Harris County for $900,000. The lawsuit alleged the facility violated the county’s development regulations and discharged pollutants into the county stormwater system.

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