Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the State of Texas and the United States have reached a settlement to recover natural resource damages caused by the March 2019 fire at the Deer Park facility owned by International Terminals Company, LLC (“ITC”). ITC has agreed to pay over $6.6 million to state and federal Natural Resource Trustees to resolve claims for natural resource damages under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) for releases of hazardous chemicals from ITC’s terminal facility in Deer Park, Harris County, Texas.

“I’m pleased we were able to secure this natural resource damages settlement after the serious destruction caused by the fire at Deer Park. This fire burned for three days, spewing hazardous chemicals into our air, water, and land,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Texas’s environmental enforcement suit against ITC is still pending. All companies operating in our state must take the utmost precaution to prevent any such disaster from harming our citizens and our environment.”

The State of Texas and the United States concurrently filed a civil complaint along with a proposed consent decree. The complaint seeks money damages and costs under CERCLA for injuries to natural resources resulting from the March 2019 fire at ITC’s Deer Park facility. The fire resulted in the release of hundreds of thousands of barrels of petrochemical products and firefighting water and foam into Tucker Bayou and surrounding waterways, including the Houston Ship Channel. The Natural Resource Trustees determined that the hazardous substances released from ITC’s facility caused significant impact and injuries to ecological resources and habitats, including marsh and riparian areas, as well as to birds. The releases to air and water also resulted in lost recreational opportunities in the Deer Park area, including temporary closures of multiple shoreline parks and the Lynchburg Ferry, as well as the cancelation of an annual historical reenactment at San Jacinto State Park.

Under the proposed consent decree, ITC has agreed to pay $6,645,000 to compensate the public for natural resource injuries and agency costs. The Trustees, working with the public, will use the cash payment to implement natural resource restoration projects to address ecological injuries and recreational use projects intended to address impacts to human use. ITC previously paid about $1 million to reimburse federal and State trustees for their prior assessment costs.

Today’s action was filed by the Texas Office of Attorney General and the Department of Justice on behalf of the federal and State trustees for natural resources. The designated state trustees for the natural resources impacted by the releases from ITC’s facility are the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Texas General Land Office. The federal trustees are the United States Department of the Interior through the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the United States Department of Commerce through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The State and federal trustees worked with ITC to perform the injury assessment. The Trustees will continue working together to develop and adopt a restoration plan.

The Attorney General’s Office is seeking public comments on the settlement for a period of 30 days from publication of a notice of the settlement, which will appear in the Texas Register.