20, at approximately 4:40 a.m., an active warehouse fire was reported at the
High Tech Finishing warehouse in Houston, TX due to unknown causes. The
facility is an electroplating facility for airplane interiors parts, and
is not designated as an RMP facility. The fire was extinguished around 5:45 a.m. Houston Fire
Department is removing part of the building using heavy equipment to access the
hotspots inside the building. Approximately 0.25-mile radius shelter-in-place
order was issued by the Houston Fire Department due to elevated levels of
Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) and firewater was applied to reduce the level of
particulates in the air. The shelter-in-place was lifted at 1:50 p.m. The
firewater runoff is entering
into a storm drain. The Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) has hired a
cleanup contractor to manage the firewater.
Local and other Federal Agency Actions and Roles: The Houston Fire Department is on-scene and continues
to monitor for hotspots and smoke at the facility. Houston Fire Department issued a
shelter-in-place order based on emergency response air monitoring data provided
by EPA On-Scene Coordinator (OSC). They are currently assessing and managing the runoff
firewater. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is also on scene
conducting emergency response air monitoring.
Actions and Roles: An
EPA OSC and Superfund Technical
Assistance Response Team (START) deployed to assess the situation and determined the firewater runoff is potentially comingled with plating chemicals.
No oil sheen was observed on the firewater runoff. EPA conducted emergency
response air monitoring for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) using a MultiRAE
with a detection limit of 0.1 ppm and PM2.5 using pDR1500 with a detection limit
of 1 ug/m3.
On May 20 at 4PM, Unified Command disbanded and EPA R6 demobilized from the site.
EPA will continue to monitor the response efforts and visit the facility as
needed. TCEQ and Houston Public Works will monitor the removal and proper
disposal of the runoff water and remaining hazardous substances at the
facility. EPA has not received the list of facility chemicals, as the
investigation by local authorities is on-going.
incident location is in the inland zone and EPA is the lead federal agency for
the response. There are approximate 30,973 people living within a 1-mile radius
of the facility.