DEER PARK, Texas - Normally buzzing with boaters, Clear Lake Park remains closed, one of ten Harris County recreational spaces along the waterfront shut-off from the public as a precaution.
A big part of the potential danger are thousands of gallons of highly toxic firefighting foam which escaped into the ship channel as first responders struggled to extinguish the disastrous ITC blaze.
"The foam that was used is also a danger and became a threat to the environment when there was the breach in the dike. Of course, we're concerned," said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
So how could foam capable of much good, ultimately be horrifically bad?
The answer lies in a key component known as polyfloroalky, PFAS for short, a man-made chemical that's proving a poison both persistent and potent.
Contamination across the country has been documented by the PFAS Project at Northeastern University. The chemical is particularly hazardous because it's soluble and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is a threat to human health at just 70 parts per trillion in drinking water.
"They are highly persistent in the environment. They never leave. They don't break down and they accumulate in humans and in the wildlife that live in the Bay," said Sarah Gossett, Water Quality Manager for the Galveston Bay Foundation.
Gossett has been gathering water samples to gauge the severity of contamination.
"We want to make sure that we are monitoring how the sheer volume of contaminates might be impacting the Bay, throughout the entire bay system and not just immediately at the site," said Gossett.
As scientists await test results, GBF Executive Director Bob Stokes says government, industry and the public must consider common sense regulation.
"Let's do what we need to do to insure that the people who live here, that the people who work at those facilities have an opportunity to use Galveston Bay, to fish to swim and not worry about getting sick. That's sort of fundamental to who we are," said Stokes.
On March 26, the Environmental Protection Agency issued an advisory calling PFAS a "top priority" and pledging immediate and comprehensive testing of waterways contaminated by escaped foam from the ITC fire.