Hundreds in Houston Metro Region Received Medical Treatment During ITC Deer Park Plant Fire
More than one week after a massive tank fire erupted at the ITC Deer Park petrochemical plant near Houston, it’s apparent that hundreds of people in the disaster zone sought medical attention for nose bleeds, vomiting, and other symptoms related to toxic chemicals released by the blaze.
Harris County Pop-Up Clinic Treated Nearly 1,000 Patients
“I was filling out the paper work inside, and my eyes were running and running with tears,” one woman told Bloomberg News. “It was just that desperation of wanting to get your eyes out and just rub them and rinse them and put them back. It’s just that burning sensation.”
She was among nearly 1,000 people who sought treatment at a single pop-up clinic located in the disaster zone.
While most patients reported headaches, nose bleeds, vomiting, or skin, eye and throat irritation, the clinic transferred 15 people with serious respiratory problems to nearby hospitals.
It’s not known how many others traveled to emergency rooms on their own or called paramedics to their homes.
ITC Deer Park Plant Fire Reignited Twice
The ITC Deer Park petrochemical plant fire began on St. Patrick’s Day, and continued to burn for more than three days. While crews managed to extinguish the blaze last Wednesday morning, it briefly reignited just hours later.
Officials ordered nearby residents to shelter-in-place on Thursday, after benzene fumes began to leak from a damaged tank.
Another flare-up burned for several hours on Friday, after a containment dike collapsed and allowed a million gallons of toxic, flammable liquid to escape from the site.
“It’s been a never-ending, re-occurring case of things not working out as planned,” Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton said on Saturday.
Health Worries Linger After Deer Park Petrochemical Fire
In addition to benzene, other hydrocarbons involved in the ITC Deer Park fire included toluene, xylene, and naphtha.
Respiratory exposure to any one of these toxins can lead to severe fatigue, breathing problems, nose bleeds, headaches, and vomiting. The chemicals can also cause various long-term health problems, including cancer, blood disorders, brain damage, and liver and kidney problem.
Understandably, many people throughout the Houston-area are worried about their health.
“They say we can’t smoke cigarettes, it’s bad for your lungs, it’s bad for your health,” a Deer Park resident told CNN. “So, when you put heat on any type of chemicals it’s not good for you, we know it’s not.”
“A lot of us can’t afford to go to the doctor,” he continued. “So, we have to live with this.”
ITC Compensation Program Permanently Bars Lawsuits for Future Injuries & Wage Losses
ITC established a compensation program for individuals who suffered injuries or losses in connection with the Deer Park fire.
During a recent interview with ABC 13, however, Ryan Zehl warned that anyone accepting compensation through this program would be PERMANENTLY BARRED from later filing a lawsuit to hold ITC responsible for any serious (or even fatal) medical conditions that develop in the future, including cancer and chronic respiratory distress.
Mr. Zehl advised anyone suffering symptoms to see their doctor as soon as possible. Then speak with an attorney before signing anything from ITC.
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