It’s been a few days since we had a story about how the United States in 2016 is unable to provide clean drinking water to its citizens. So along comes Corpus Christi, Texas, to make up for lost time. In this story, however, we get another look into the “business-friendly” climate of which a succession of Texas governors are so very proud, and the one that incoming Secretary of Energy Rick Perry would like to bring to the nation at large. From the BBC:
The contaminant, they say, is Indulin AA-86, an asphalt emulsifier which can burn human skin in concentrated form. On Wednesday the city of 320,000 people announced that residents should not touch, drink or use the water. The ban has since been lifted for some city dwellers while officials investigate the origin of the spill. After a night-time meeting of the city council on Thursday, officials released a map of the city, showing that residents in the outlying regions could resume using city tap water. Angry residents had gathered outside city hall throughout the day to call for answers and to chant “What do we want? Clean water! When do we want it? Now!” As of Friday morning, about 15% of city residents were told they could use their water.
There’s just no pleasing some people, I tell you.
Officials say that about three to 24 gallons of the petroleum-based, glue-like substance was released by Ergon Asphalt and Emulsion Inc after a “back-flow incident” in the city’s industrial district. Official say no reports of illness or injury has been reported related to the recent contamination. The Mississippi-based company has not taken responsibility for the spill and in a statement said it had been in contact with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and had been “working cooperatively to provide all information to ensure state officials can remedy the situation as quickly as possible.” City spokeswoman Kim Womack told a local news station that officials had inspected the suspected site of the contamination and had not found a “backflow preventer”. “They’re saying there is one and we’re telling them ‘show us,'” she told KRIS-TV. “In the simplest terms, someone was careless when they were injecting chemicals with a pump and … when the injection occurred, it crossed over into our water system.”
However, The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports that there was more than one industrial mixer that sluiced into the city’s water supply.
Industrial tanks may have released two chemicals into the Corpus Christi public water system, according to a news release from the Corpus Christi legislative delegation. “This is based on initial reports and the quantity of these chemicals can not be determined at this time,” the news release states. The chemicals were identified as indoline and hydrochloric acid. This new information contradicts the city’s earlier announcement that only one chemical — Indulin AA-86 — was released into the water supply. The city’s announcement comes about 12 hours into a city mandated ban on drinking or using tap water.
This is the third water crisis for the area in two years. And it will not surprise you at all to learn that there are already lawsuits flying in the direction of Valero, the parent company of the firm in question, Ergon Asphalt and Emulsion of Jackson, Mississippi. The whole country is in the middle of a “backflow incident” right now. I think we’re going to wash up, finally, in 1879.