Benzene – What You Should Know

From the Deer Park Texas Website

On Sunday, March 17, 2019 at approximately 10AM, a storage tank caught fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) Deer Park facility, located at 1943 Independence Parkway.

Industry neighbors and multiple local agencies actively fought the fire to prevent it from spreading and to extinguish it as quickly as possible.

As of early Wednesday morning, March 20, the fire had been extinguished.”

During the early morning hours of Thursday, March 21, 2019, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a statement…

Early this morning, certain air quality readings were found to be above our very conservative air quality standards. The cities of Deer Park and Galena Park issued shelter-in-place orders.

At this time, air quality readings that we are monitoring are at lower levels, and the city of Deer Park has lifted its shelter-in-place order. Galena Park’s shelter-in-place order is still in effect.

We know these events are concerning, and we are continuing to monitor benzene levels. If you believe you are experiencing symptoms related to benzene exposure, please call a  healthcare professional.”

ERC Teams were called into action early Thursday morning to assist clients with assessing indoor air quality (IAQ) in facilities within the shelter-in-place borders. ERC’s long background with assessing IAQ gives clients confidence that we can help them manage this critical situation.

What are we testing for? Benzene and Toluene. Both of these chemicals were released into the air after the fire was extinguished and clients are looking to make sure their workers/students are safe to return to work/school.

About Benzene: It is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air. Benzene is formed from natural processes, such as volcanoes and forest fires, but most exposure to benzene results from human activities. It is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States.

The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that benzene is a known carcinogen (can cause cancer). Both the International Agency for Cancer Research and the EPA have determined that benzene is carcinogenic to humans. Exposure to benzene may be harmful to the reproductive organs.

About Toluene:  It is an aromatic hydrocarbon. It is a colorless, water-insoluble liquid with the smell associated with paint thinners. It is a mono-substituted benzene derivative, consisting of a CH3 group attached to a phenyl group. The effects of toluene on animals are similar to those seen in humans. The main effect of toluene is on the brain and nervous system, but animals exposed to moderate or high levels of toluene also show harmful effects in their liver, kidneys, and lungs and impaired immune function.

What Can You Do?

  • Do not touch any substance, residue, or particles from the plume (smoke).
  • Wash your hands and exposed skin with soap and water thoroughly for 3-5 minutes if you have come in contact with residue/particles.
  • Bathe your pet while, wearing gloves, if they have come in contact with reside/particles from the fire.
  • Move your pet indoors to reduce contact with any substance, residue, or particles from the plume.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you feel you or a loved one are experiencing any related symptoms.
  • Check on elderly neighbors or those who you are concerned about.

(This information and more can be found at ReadyHarris.org – Harris County Homeland Security and Emergency Management.)

If you are a business owner/manager and want to have your facility assessed for these chemicals, please call ERC at 713-290-9444 or through our website Contact Us

Helping with Harvey Recovery…

… One Construction Site at a Time

The Wikipedia entry for Hurricane Harvey reads: “Hurricane Harvey is tied with 2005’s Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record, inflicting $125 billion in damage, primarily from catastrophic rainfall-triggered flooding…”

Hurricane Harvey before and after
Harvey – Before and After

Harvey in numbers:

  • $125 billion in damages (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
  • Over 300,000 structures flooded
  • Up to 500,000 cars flooded
  • About 336,000 customers lost power
  • Approximately 40,000 people in shelters (Texas and Louisiana)
  • More than 50 inches (average) rainfall in four days
  • More than 80 lives lost

Recovery has been slow. FEMA, insurance… well, government just doesn’t move very fast and insurance companies have been bogged with claims. The losses were just catastrophic and will take time to get everything back to normal.

 

ERC is helping recover from this widespread catastrophe. In 2018, ERC was awarded the first FEMA-related contract through the City of Houston’s General Services Division. We are renovating the McGovern-Stella Link Neighborhood Library, part of the Houston Public Library System, after flood waters damaged the building. The scope of work includes flooring, electrical, millwork, and painting.

McGovern-Stella Link Neighborhood Library before ERC Renovation
McGovern-Stella Link Neighborhood Library – Before Harvey, Street view.

What makes this project different? The paperwork. In an effort to insure the City of Houston and FEMA are on the same page as to what work is covered and what will be reimbursed to the City, this project’s paperwork was fine-tuned to address this unique situation.

“We are thrilled to be working with the City of Houston,” states Kommy M. Azarpour, CAPM, PE, president of ERC, “We’ve had a long relationship with the City on the environmental side. This isn’t our first construction project with the City, but it is the first in our 2019 focus on our construction division.”

“We want to impress the City of Houston with our professionalism, while at the same time, being easy to work with,” says Max Sanati, ERC’s superintendent of the project.

When the project is complete, we’ll post photos to our website, so please return to see the end result!

If you’d like more information on what Houston is doing to help recovery and their efforts to reduce the risk of this happening again, visit Houston Recovers. If you don’t live in Houston, but want information about your nearby affected area, there are links to get you to your neighborhood information.

It’s a New Year

Happy 2019 New Year

As we enter 2019, we are full of excitement as we continue to grow and the future does, indeed, look bright!

2018 was a good year for ERC:

  • 575 proposals submitted; 55 construction related
  • 350 projects were started; 320 completed
  • 4 new employees: 2 technicians, 1 business development, 1 administrative
  • 6 new “master agreements”
  • 35% increase in gross revenue – WOW!

We are starting this January with the eye to improve these numbers. How are we going to do that? By continuing to work our Guiding Principles:

  • Corporate Sustainability
  • Absolute Integrity
  • Consistent Service
  • Conservative Cost Analysis
  • On-Time Delivery
  • Quality Workmanship

So come on 2019… we’re ready for you!

ERC’s New Website!

We’ve been working on this new site for a month or so and are thrilled to have it launched. Our blog will update ERC happenings, as well as address environmental and construction related trending topics.

As part of this new electronic media, we are delving into social media:

We will also be sending out a quarterly email newsletter. To sign up CLICK HERE!

We hope you enjoy the site and come back for more!