Runoff from the extinguished petrochemical tank fire at Intercontinental Terminals Company is blocked by an oil skimming bouy on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in Deer Park. Fire crews extinguished the blaze at ITC about 3 a.m., Wednesday, almost four days after it started, which caused a plume of black smoke to linger over the Houston area.
Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer
In Houston, living in close proximity to chemical breakdowns is a way of life. Odd, sulfuric aromas linger in the summer humidity. Flaring from petrochemical facilities light up the night sky. Purple smoke plumes lend a dystopian allure to the industrial landscape.
Of course, none of this is supposed to be normal. The Houston Chronicle reported several years ago that the region has a chemical fire or explosion every six weeks on average. Yet in just the past eight days, Houstonians were reminded three times of our precarious relationship with deadly chemicals.