HOUSTON (FOX 26) — If you’re thinking of heading to a waterfront park over the weekend, remember that six of them are still closed along the Houston Ship Channel due to pollutants from the Intercontinental Terminals Company Deer Park chemical facililty fire.
Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia had closed eight waterfront parks after the ITC dike wall broke, which leaked oil and gas components into the ship channel.
Bay Area Park and Clear Lake Park have since reopened.
The other six parks that remain closed to the public are the following:
- Sylvan Beach in La Porte
- Juan Seguin in La Porte
- Rio Villa Nature Trail
- Meadow Brook
- River Terrace
- Moncrief Park
Water quality coordinators with the Galveston Bay Foundation spent Friday collecting their fourth round of water samples from the ship channel since the dike breach.
“We’ve definitely seen an oily sheen, kind of scummy,” said Nicholas Ellis, a water quality coordinator with Galveston Bay Foundation.
Ellis is searching not only for contaminants from the spilled tanks but also for the toxic chemical residue left by the thousands of gallons of firefighting foam.
"We’re mostly looking at benzene, toluene and xylene and stuff like that, and also collect some PFOS samples that we’re going to ship up to College Station to A&M,” added Ellis.
Texas A&M is expected to send back results on the extent of toxic impact from the firefighting foam any day now.
So far, results of VOC tests have shown benzene levels were slightly elevated in the ship channel in the area near the spill but still within a range that’s considered safe for swimming, according to the Galveston Bay Foundation.
"You can see that there’s some sort of product, petroleum product, in it because there’s a rainbow sheen on top,” said Bill Irwin, complex superintendent for San Jacinto State Historic Site. He was commenting on the appearance of the water at Lynchburg Ferry.
The San Jacinto Day festival and re-enactment was scheduled to take place on Saturday at the State Historic Site. Instead, only personnel with respirators are allowed to enter the battleground, battleship, gift shop and monument museum until at least April 21.
Zero tourism is adding up to a whole lot of revenue loss.
"Adding it up, you’re probably coming close to half of a million dollars,” said Irwin.
Workers at the State Historic Site are also waiting to find out how much of the contaminated oily water has seeped into leaks in the historic Battleship Texas.
"The battleship has lived through a lot, and this is another instant that she’ll have to live through,” said Irwin.
The San Jacinto State Historic Site still has no clear timeline for reopening.