HOUSTON (AP) — A fire has reignited at the Houston-area tank farm where an earlier blaze sent plumes of black smoke over the Houston area for several days.
Harris County's emergency management center says multiple tanks were on fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company plant east of Houston. It's unclear how large or serious the fire is. Several calls to the company's incident center went unanswered Friday afternoon.
Earlier Friday, a breach of a containment dike at the plant forced the closure of part of the Houston Ship Channel. Crews were trying to drain one tank considered to be structurally unsound.
There are still significant health and environmental concerns at the site. Among the chemicals stored there include benzene, a highly flammable liquid that can cause headaches, rapid heartbeat and other symptoms.
Earlier the U.S. Coast Guard closed part of the Houston Ship Channel due to chemicals spilling from the tank farm after a dayslong fire, affecting commerce on one of the nation’s most important commercial waterways.
The Coast Guard said Friday that it was closing the channel near the Intercontinental plant.
The company said earlier that a dike wall breached near a damaged tank where crews were trying to drain potentially hazardous liquids.
Coast Guard spokesman Kelly Parker says that caused a mix of chemicals, firefighting foam, and soot from the fire to enter the channel. By closing the channel, the Coast Guard hopes to limit the spread of those liquids into the nearby bay.
The ship channel connects the Port of Houston to Galveston Bay and is a key waterway for refineries and industrial sites.