Several spill booms can be seen in the Willow Marsh Bayou near East Lane on Friday. A clean up and and shelter in place was ordered for the area after a solvent spill into the water at General Electric: Betz Water and Process Technologies, an industrial water processing facility,
Chemical spill in Willow Marsh Bayou damaged natural resources, killed wildlife
By Brandon Scott and Elizabeth Robinson
Updated 10:03 am, Monday, September 26, 2016
Texas environmental investigators might take days to determine the severity of a chemical spill into the Willow Marsh Bayou west of Beaumont that damaged natural resources and killed wildlife, according to local and state officials.
A solvent spill into the bayou by General Electric: Betz Water and Process Technologies, an industrial water processing facility, on Thursday night killed creatures that call the bayou home and prompted Jefferson County emergency management officials to order a shelter in place for nearly 100 nearby homes Friday morning.
Monica Gonzalez, who lives near the facility, said she was awakened Thursday night by a strong smell of gasoline.
Gonzalez initially thought someone was outside of her trailer stealing fuel.
"You can still smell it inside of my trailer," Gonzalez said Friday from her front porch. "We weren't able to get much sleep last night."
The industrial water processing facility is located off U.S. 90 between an Exxon Mobil chemical plant and the Beaumont Municipal Airport.
Residents living within 1,000 feet from East and Shady lanes were required to shelter in place as sheriff's deputies blocked off intersections Friday morning.
The combination of chemicals in the air were still being tested Friday afternoon, Deputy Marcus McLellan said.
Five workers from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality responded with air monitoring and water sampling, according to a TCEQ spokesman.
GE Betz hired private remediation company OMI Environmental to clean the spill.
McLellan said in a prepared statement that a dirt dam was built across the bayou south of Brooks Road to prevent the chemicals from spilling into other areas.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department conducted limited assessments on Friday, spokesman Steve D. Lightfoot said.
The department employs groups of biologists who investigate fish and wildlife deaths resulting from pollution and natural events.
Assessments Friday were limited because of high vapors along the creek, causing the Parks and Wildlife employees to work carefully at certain access points, according to Lightfoot.
"We likely will not have a comprehensive assessment of resource impacts for at least a few days, maybe longer depending on conditions," Lightfoot said.
GE Betz officials were unavailable Friday for comment. OMI Environmental officials declined to comment.