"Good morning. The possibility of vapor escaping is one we accounted for just as the possibility of flare ups. That's why we've kept intense monitoring in place all throughout the night and since yesterday. We caught benzene vapor immediately early this morning and our plan was activated and executed as designed. Local officials and all of our partners are taking steps to make sure our community is informed and to make sure our community is safe."
"The product escaped from the foam blanket that was in place. There's not much wind right now which is keeping everything in the area. Given our very conservative air quality standards, we're at a level where out of an abundance of caution, there should be a shelter in place, which the city of Deer Park has announced. It's important to remember outside of that immediate area we are not seeing any elevated readings right now."
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3. SOUNDBITE (English) Umair Shah, Executive Director, Harris County Public Health:
"I really just want to ensure again that we emphasize that our primary concern is the health and safety of our entire community. That is the number one concern that we have and that is our number one priority."
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4. SOUNDBITE (English) Umair Shah, Executive Director, Harris County Public Health:
"So stay indoors. That's the number one message. The additional message around that is that we also want to say stay indoors, we want folks to have their windows and their doors closed, we want to have the air conditioners off. And we know it's fortunately not in the summer so it's not hot hot, but we do know that may be uncomfortable but that's the abundance of caution that we want to take. The most important thing is that the levels that have been detected are still not high enough for the level of concern that people may be having that I'm in a shelter in place. However, still listen to the officials and listen to us in terms of staying indoors as best as possible as much as possible."
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Umair Shah, Executive Director, Harris County Public Health:
"And I think it's absolutely critical that we emphasize that the entirety of our community is who is who we are concerned about, the entirety of our community has very low risk. But we want to make sure that we also take the appropriate precautions within what's happening in Deer Park."
National Guard troops have been called in and residents are being told to stay inside after elevated levels of benzene were detected near a Houston-area petrochemicals storage facility that caught fire this week.
Harris County officials said Thursday that the Guard and hazardous materials teams have established perimeters around the Intercontinental Terminals Company in Deer Park.
The Texas Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that benzene levels near the facility didn't post a health concern. But authorities now say a shelter-in-place order following "reports of action levels of benzene or other volatile organic compounds" within Deer Park.
Several school districts also canceled classes for the day, citing "unfavorable air quality conditions."
The fire started Sunday, sending a huge, dark plume into the air, and spread to storage tanks holding components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner.
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