VIDEO: In March 2019, a massive chemical fire broke out after a leak at a chemical tank farm in Deer Park spread to almost a dozen other tanks. A plume of smoke soon loomed over the Houston skyline and lingered there for three days. Residents of Deer Park were forced to shelter in place due to air pollution hazards, the Houston Ship Channel closed for three days, and millions of gallons of hazardous waste spilled on the ground and leaked into the water.
That chemical fire at Intercontinental Terminals Company’s facility also rekindled a debate at the Legislature about the state’s rapidly growing petrochemical industry, much of it in communities along the Texas Gulf Coast. Thousands of such tanks, typically made of steel plates, are in the Houston area alone, and state lawmakers had already become concerned after at least 15 tanks holding crude oil, gasoline and other hydrocarbons ruptured or malfunctioned during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.