A former employee of Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) claims it knowingly released hazardous waste into the flood waters during Hurricane Harvey. The complaint filed in the Southern District of Texas was done well before the chemical plant fire that began on Sunday.
Mary Hart, a hazardous waste specialist, worked at the ITC Deer Park facility from 1990 to 2017.
The original complaint filed in February of 2018, Hart alleged discrimination and retaliation because of her gender.
The complaint has been amended twice -- the most recent was filed last month. The amended complaints describe why Hart believed she was harassed to the point where she quit.
Hart alleges she refused “to commit an illegal act that could have subjected her to criminal penalties."
That act, according to court documents, was following Hurricane Harvey when “during the three-day period, over a million gallons of hazardous waste was intentionally released into the flood waters by ITC.”
The complaint alleges a senior official at ITC ordered someone else to do it, because he knew Hart would refuse.
Hart claims she took samples of the water and they showed high levels of contamination.
She also believes she was threatened – the complaint says she was told “if the release ever went to court, she would be the one who would go to jail because it was her license.”
In November of 2017, Hart claims ITC did not properly remove contaminated soil until she reported it to a supervisor.
FOX 26 reached out to ITC and its attorney for comment. However, Stephen Quezada, ITC's attorney, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
In documents filed in federal court, ITC denied the allegations in the first two complaints.
A federal judge has given ITC until March 27th to respond to the most recent amended complaint.
According to the court documents, the final straw for Hart was when she got a copy of the report ITC filed with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in connection with the Harvey release. In the report, she says, ITC claimed it was unintentional.
The next day after she saw this report, she resigned.