DEER PARK, Texas — The water used to put out a massive railcar fire in East Palestine, Ohio, is headed to Texas for safe disposal, the City of Deer Park confirmed to KHOU 11.
About 50 train cars derailed on Feb. 3, sparking a fire that lasted several days. Some of those cars were carrying hazardous chemicals. Crews collected as much of the firefighting water used as possible to prevent environmental contamination.
That water is being sent to a company called Texas Molecular, which is permitted to properly dispose of hazardous materials, Deer Park officials confirmed to KHOU 11 on Wednesday. The company is located just outside Deer Park.
“I’m very confident that it’s being handled appropriately and again it’s permitted through the EPA the TCEQ is aware of it, so this is what the facility does and has done for 40 years," Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton said.
Some people who live near the company are concerned. They contacted KHOU 11 and Harris County leaders.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said that as a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, she's very concerned about the transportation of the water. She told KHOU 11 that the Ohio EPA, the state's environmental agency, contracted a company to transport the waste to Harris County.
Texas Molecular told KHOU 11 it's able to handle a project of this size.
"Our technology safely removes hazardous constituents from the biosphere. We are part of the solution to reduce risk and protect the environment, whether in our local area or other places that need the capabilities we offer to protect the environment," the company said.
The company said it has experience managing projects similar to this one.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said Texas Molecular informed her office on Thursday that it had started receiving some of the water sometime mid-last week. She said the company had received around half a million gallons since then and expected to receive around two million gallons in total.
Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia's office also issued a statement:
“We are aware of a Deer Park company being contracted to dispose of potentially dangerous wastewater from the Ohio train derailment. My office has been in contact with HC Pollution Control, the Fire Marshal, and other subject-matter experts to ensure that if hazardous materials are coming to Harris County, it will be done so in as safe a manner as possible. I have also personally spoken with Deer Park Mayor Mouton, and we share the urgent need for safety.
"While there are assurances being made that transporting the wastewater poses minimal danger to people, my office will closely monitor the situation to make sure people aren’t put in any risk.”