TEXAS CITY — Thousands of gallons of chemicals were found at an improperly abandoned storage facility where leaking sulfuric acid caused a road closure at the Texas City Wye lasting until early Saturday morning, officials said.
Emergency crews were still cleaning up the leak into Saturday afternoon because thunderstorms hampered the response. The rain also hindered crews from determining exactly how much sulfuric acid leaked from the five 250-gallon containers.
Galveston County Emergency Management Coordinator Garret Foskit estimated about 75 full or partially filled 250-gallon containers were left at the site in the 200 block of Texas City Wye. It’s unclear whether 55-gallon drums also found at the industrial site contained chemicals, Foskit said. He estimated at least 50 of the smaller drums were abandoned at the storage facility.
“It was significant because it had the potential to be bad,” Foskit said. “We had no idea how bad it was because we have to be careful. We have to assume worst case.”
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and several other state and local agencies responded to the leak, Foskit said. The Daily News was unable to reach the state agency for comment.
Derek Duckett, director of homeland security for Texas City, said Yode Investments owns the property. The Bacliff-based company has 10 commercial property sites in Galveston County, including two at the Texas City Wye, according to Galveston Central Appraisal District’s online records.
County records list the company AAA Chemicals to be at that address as well. Duckett said the information he had was that the company “shares” the property with Yode Investments.
Foskit said the operator of the facility “skipped town,” leaving Yode Investments to handle the chemical clean up of remaining containers with assistance from the state. He said it appeared the previous operator left the site without following proper protocol, meaning criminal, civil or administrative litigation is possible.
Reports of the a pungent smell in the area first came around 9:30 p.m. Friday. There was no call for an evacuation because the wind blew the smell toward Texas City’s industrial sector and away from the residential communities of Bayou Vista and Omega Bay, officials said.
Still, some say they are bothered by the smell.
In a message to The Daily News, Stephanie Drake, said the “super glue” smell was evident along state Highway 146 between FM 1765 and FM 519 in La Marque. She said the smell gave her a headache.
Duckett said despite the strong odor, there was not a significant health risk to people who live in neighboring communities. The environmental company Center for Toxicology & Environmental Health LLC conducted air tests in the area and did not find any detectable threats, Duckett said.