Texas A&M researchers help test water effected by ITC chemical spill

Published: Mar. 26, 2019 at 9:52 PM CDT
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Texas A&M researchers were out on the Galveston Bay for a regularly scheduled cruise over the weekend.

The group has been collecting samples from the water quarterly for two years but this trip was different, according to Jessica Fitzsimmons, an assistant professor in the Department of Oceanography.

"It didn't look oily on the surface. We couldn't even tell that there was any residue in the water until we touched it and we could feel soapy, soapiness. That told us that there was some impact from Deer Park that had reached that station already,” said Fitzsimmons.

The change in water comes from the latest fire at the ITC plant in Deer Park which caused a chemical spill into the water.

Crew members say they went as close to the ITC site as the U.S Coast Guard would allow them.

"We didn't see any black water. We just saw what looked like surface slicks of clear oily residue in the surface waters," said Fitzsimmons.

Fitzsimmons says Texas A&M researchers from the Departments of Oceanography, Civil Engineering, and Marine Biology in Galveston collected air, water, and sediment quality samples in Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel.

"We're all going to be working together to get our data out to the public as soon as possible so that an assessment of the impact can be made immediately,” said Fitzsimmons.

Fitzsimmons says they will not know whether the compounds are toxic until their sample analysis is completed in about two weeks.

Photos courtesy of: iamseawolf.com