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March 18, 2019 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Hang over

Fire at tank farm in Deer Park (KHOU screenshot)

Not planned St. Patrick’s Day fireworks Sunday night (KHOU screenshot)

The day after, Irish eyes are not smiling

The farm’s on fire. No, not a potato farm. Keep up here. We farm tanks. No, not the army kind.

Really. If you can’t keep up with the erratic here, you’ll never manage O’Rourke’s presidential run.

 Nothing like the smell of diesel fumes in the morning – with a hint of xyeens. You know like xylene.

Sunday a storage vessel holding naphtha (a component in gasoline) caught fire at a chemical storage facility/ tank farm not far from here. Odd, because the tanks have redundant safety components, but things rust/corrode in this climate, seals deteriorate, and there’s always human error (who’s watching the gauges today?) Still a rare incident. Normally the product is either left to burn out or drained off – and it’s over.

And that was the plan last night. But this tank was in the middle of 15 or so, and when I checked this morning the fire had spread to 3 others, and now 7 are burning. Not controlled, but they seem confident additional tanks will be kept cool and safe.

Bubble Bubble(News video screenshot)

Not your ordinary stove top cooking.(News video screenshot)

Great. Out of sailing habit, we notice which way the wind is blowing, but with fire, especially chemical/petrochemical facilities along the ship channel east of us, we keep track of what up in the air. It’s not the stuff you see or smell that is dangerous, but the invisible fumes.

What is burning has been Naphtha, Xylene, Toluene. Although the air levels are safe, there are possible health hazards for the delicate. (read about that here)

Smoke in sky from tank fire Monday (© image, all rights reserved, no permissions granted)

Sky decor on Monday morning’s dog walk.(© image)

Before you start snorting about the environmental damage,  it’s partly your fault (HAHA – insert laugh there)

Like nail salons? Then you love chemical complexes and tank farms

The tank farm chemical components are destined for fingernail polish remover, solvents, glues, paints, machine lubricants, printing company necessities.

Toluene, actually a natural as it comes from the tolu tree as well as from crude oil, is used to make coke from coal used during manufacturing products like fabrics, dyes, assorted plastic “must haves.”

The ship channel – so much “waterfront property” here – is lined with chemical plants, petrochemical plants, tank storage, docking for massive tankers and ocean-going ships. All for you! You’re welcome.

Smoke from tank farm fire seen from bridge (© image, copyrighted, no permissions granted, all rights reserved)

Just over the hill? Actually it’s miles away – just a huge smoke plume.(© image)

Today, that darn ominous cloud is the worst St Patrick’s Day hangover ever. (more here ch 13 news or here Ch2 news)

Molly is miffed we are limiting outdoor time and she is not going to run wildly with friends in the field for a couple of hours (“But Mom, the pool may be open since it’s so warm. Mom!”)

Right now the winds are blowing away from us, but those will clock around the next day or so, and we’ll pay attention.

Interesting not one little peep from any source about what started the first tank’s fire. That’s very odd and unusual.

Certainly a hot time in the old town tonight…and for several nights

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Bird on dock. (©Copyrighted, NO permissions granted)

Local resident grounded and docked until all clear.(© image)


  1. ksbeth / Mar 18 2019 4:11 pm

    How awful I hope that it ends soon and everyone is okay

    Liked by 2 people

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 18 2019 5:22 pm

      There were 30 people on site, but no injuries. Right now they are saying 2 days of burning off fumes/fuel supply. As if things weren’t itchy eyes enough with the extreme oak pollen. Oh, well, always exciting around here. Thanks for lighting up the comment pile here

      Liked by 1 person

  2. shoreacres / Mar 18 2019 4:26 pm

    Xylene is my friend — it’s an ingredient in Interlux’s 212/special thinner that I use for brush cleaning and as an varnish accelerator in cold/humid weather. It’s a good adhesive remover, too, although Goo-gone is cheaper and less toxic.

    I just was looking at yon cloud, and it seems a lot thinner and lighter. Maybe they’re getting control of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 18 2019 5:27 pm

      Just returned from dog walk to bridge – smelled more like garlic bread from the restaurants than xyenes now. Wind from east has it flowing to Fulshear and Katy. They say 2 tanks done and progress being made, but expect to see light smoke alternating with heavy for a bit. Bet there’s gonna be some interrogating going on shortly by multiple folks? (Wonder what items will have price increases with this – liquid gold in some cases HAHA) Thanks for fanning a comment over here


      • shoreacres / Mar 18 2019 5:43 pm

        I presume you noticed the calm, commanding presence of the new Harris Co. judge.

        Liked by 1 person

        • shoreacres / Mar 18 2019 5:43 pm

          Whoops! My sarcasm font didn’t take…..

          Liked by 1 person

        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 18 2019 6:03 pm

          And notice the absence of presence equal to the former. In over head – admitted didn’t have any idea what the job duties were shortly after election. Spending time to talk with communities to find out what they want her office to focus on…
          Woe if hurricane season spins up

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Kate Crimmins / Mar 18 2019 5:35 pm

    I wondered if that was near you. Sounds awful. When I was a kid they would spray the farm fields with anything from chicken poop (yuck) to DDT. Sometimes I’m amazed I survived but there is a high incidence of COPD in the guys who worked in the cement mills which owned and rented out the fields.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 18 2019 6:10 pm

      Now I even worry about Chem lawn companies’ drift. So far the wind’s in our favor, and several tanks are done. The scene is about 30 min from here – we know when stuff issuing released. Normally the prevailing winds protect us.
      This company has a terrible record environmentally – and runs on a thin staff. Questions will be asked – and fines…
      (Chicken poo – yucky yucky indeed!)
      Thanks for sparking the comment section today

      Liked by 1 person

  4. aFrankAngle / Mar 18 2019 7:15 pm

    Definitely not a way to celebrate any day. Hopefully everyone is OK.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 18 2019 7:36 pm

      No injuries – in fact we think the 30 people on duty there at the time did not take it seriously enough (or think of potential). While some snap, crackle and pops, no explosion potential – you can drive right past it…not a situation anyone should take lightly, though. Not an opportunity for marshmallow roasting. Thanks for braving to leave a fiery remark


  5. easyweimaraner / Mar 19 2019 12:51 am

    fire can be such a cruelty element… things what grow or what we built for years are gone within seconds… so sorry for this people…

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 19 2019 5:55 am

      There’s good news! Although it looks terrible, no people or any residential property was harmed by this fire – which continues today. This is a company’s group of storage tanks which holds chemicals until they are needed. Quite dramatic, but little physical damage except for the 8 tanks. (which are rimmed with earthen barriers/dams to prevent the foam or contaminated water from getting out into the streets, ship channel, or neighborhoods). Big trouble for that company – not only loss of product and equipment, but big environmental fines for letting this happen. And we already had air quality issues with all the darn oak and pine pollen. Sneezy and eye itchy here. Thanks and paw waves to reassure (Molly’s going to run in fields with friends shortly for a bit – staying indoors is sooo not fun!)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jay / Mar 19 2019 8:17 am

    Breathe safely!!


  7. Ally Bean / Mar 19 2019 12:29 pm

    That is awful. I can imagine how ominous it must seem. Weird drama there.


  8. RKLikesReeses / Mar 19 2019 1:01 pm

    Gahhhh!!!!! Super scary!!! ((((hugs through my hazmat gear)))))


  9. Curt Mekemson / Mar 19 2019 4:04 pm

    Yuck. I think I stick with the smoke from burning forest fires which has become part of our summer routine. Usually when anything related to petroleum goes up in smoke an increase in gas prices is all but guaranteed. This doesn’t sound like gas so maybe not. But I wouldn’t count on it. Sorry about the smoke, Phil. I know it can be dangerous. –Curt


  10. LordBeariOfBow / Mar 19 2019 10:15 pm

    I wasn’t able to see those TV links, won’t download here’

    I did see just a short 5 second grab on one of our news channels , but not much said. or shown.

    Most of our news is being centred on the Christchurch massacre, they don’t have much interest in anything else at the moment.

    Not the nicest spot to live in at the moment I’d imagine,

    I’m going to check out Deer Park on Google Earth, have a bit of a look around;

    I do that now and then, go for a trip to TX or Ca or NC on Google Earthg; save a big heap on air fares as you can imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 21 2019 7:40 pm

      Sorry about the links – you might try pulling up Click2Houston website. Probably copyright issues again.
      Update tomorrow.
      My parents actually lived in Deep Park when first married – dad worked for Shell, but moved them out as soon as he could save up enough money for a house – those plants/chem complexes handle some pretty nasty materials although the safety record is extremely good considering. It’s a small blue collar suburb with really good schools. Mostly nice people.
      The San Jacinto monument marking the final battle of TX independence and surrender of Santa Anna is very close to there – there’s a tall monument with an observation deck – you can see for miles across the mashes and ship channel – Probably on line?
      Oh, RC is issuing mandates – Will run by tomorrow – thanks for sending up a flare here


      • LordBeariOfBow / Mar 21 2019 8:45 pm

        That’s usually the way in small blue collar suburbs, seems to me it’s the privileged few that cause problems,; always wanting more, never satisfied with what they’ve earned, probably because they’ve never had to earn what they have.

        Liked by 1 person

        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 22 2019 7:45 am

          This era still has the Old Money families, but so many so young have created sudden massive New Money wealth for themselves. (Including athletes, movie stars, those only famous for being famous…) Not sure many of them know the responsibilities of wealth in society. Ran across this article recently – “The Disease of More”
          Stopping to smell the roses has benefits – more than haunting the malls sometimes.


  11. RKLikesReeses / Mar 20 2019 12:20 pm

    Saw coverage ofthis last night – AAAAAARRRRRGGGHH!!
    There are/were refineries of all sorts in this region, with tank farms I see often. And underground pipelines carrying who-knows-what. When I was kid we routinely spent outdoor time trying not to breath in the odor from “burn-offs.” Sending you my sympathies, worries, concerns. 😩 On a lighter note: a skunk must’ve been very upset behind the back of the house last night bec wewoke up to THAT smell around 2:00am. Took 3 scented candles & having the heat on for a couple of hours to clear the air. Eww.😁👋

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 21 2019 6:37 pm

      Will update tomorrow. The underground pipelines are a lesser concern as those are so heavily instrumented any slight change triggers alarms – and if there’s a problem, line segments can be closed off isolating the leak/ valve failure – easy to fix that way. Big trucks on the road carrying dangerous materials concern me terribly (There was a tanker crash some 30-40 years ago near a highly populated city area – killed several people – fumes “burned” the plants/grass which finally came back. Most companies take care of their products and equipment/facilities. But good idea if relocating here to known only flood history, aircraft flight patterns/expansion plans, and if there’s any industrial complexes near – and which way the prevailing winds blow.
      Wind is important with skunk blow back, too! Eeeeewwwww. (Even RC wrinkles her nose and moves to the other side of the house. ) Paw waves in solidarity of fume avoidance!


  12. David Bennett / Mar 25 2019 11:14 am

    Well that was a fact-based report. I love this kind of stuff. Nail bars. Who would have thought. On a serious note – I hope that there is no damage to health and the environment.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 25 2019 11:39 am

      Final evaluation is out at this point. This area is pretty fast to secure sensitive environmental area/oyster beds/wetlands but company mismanagement and sitting around hoping it isn’t bad results in problems and issues. We already know there’s flow from foam/chemicals in one bayou ( boomed off and under cleaning – but it all flows eventually into Gulf of Mexico – so impt. they catch it all ) and the massive ship channel from port of Houston to Galveston is closed to stop contamination…which means the ships cannot get in or out – and neither can product – which brings up where are they going to store the excess from refineries and chemical plants until it opens. These plants take weeks to shut down ( and weeks to bring back on line. Big economic problem. Then there’s the health concerns – we watch the wind direction, the schools are back in session, but there are always people more sensitive than others, not to mention some damage takes years to be seen. Lots of reasons to make sure chemical processes are closely monitored with emergency procedures in place with people trained to move fast.(and they usually are)
      Always something interesting going on around here. Thanks for stopping by to chat.


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