TCEQ working with Corpus Christi on water issue

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says it's working with officials in Corpus Christi after a chemical leak caused the city to tell residents to not drink the water.

TCEQ said Thursday that it has initiated "multiple measures," including sampling "to determine the extent of potential impact." TCEQ said agencies it's coordinating with include the Environmental Protection Agency.

Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott said his office is coordinating with the TCEQ, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Department of State Health Services on the issue. The Texas Division of Emergency Management is coordinating shipments of drinking water to the city.


3:30 p.m.

Angry residents are scolding leaders of a Texas city for not fully explaining how the public water supply may have been contaminated by a chemical.

Corpus Christi spokeswoman Kim Womack explained during a short news briefing Thursday that an anonymous donor is providing the city 27,000 cases of bottled water.

But no other city officials appeared to provide any further details about how up to 24 gallons of an asphalt emulsifier entered the water system Wednesday. The city has described it as a "back-flow incident in the industrial district."

Womack also says officials aren't identifying the company that leaked the chemicals because they don't want the company to stop cooperating.

Immediately after Womack concluded her remarks, a group of residents began chanting, "What do we want? Clean water! When do we want it? Now!"


1:45 p.m.

An anonymous donor is providing 27,000 cases of bottled water that will be distributed to residents no longer able to use public water.

Corpus Christi spokeswoman Kim Womack said at a news briefing Thursday that the water will be provided at various locations in the city of 320,000.

Schools have closed, businesses disrupted and long lines have formed at grocery stores in the wake of a chemical that seeped Wednesday into the water supply, possibly contaminating it.

Womack says the city is requesting state assistance but didn't specify the nature of that assistance.

She says each vehicle that arrives to receive water at the city locations will receive one case.


12:15 p.m.

The possible chemical contamination of a Texas city's water supply has been traced to an asphalt producer on an industrial property where officials say there is no means to stop the leak.

Corpus Christi spokeswoman Kim Womack said at a news conference Thursday that city inspectors did not find a "backflow preventer" on the property. She says the company that owns the property and the one leasing it claim there is one.

Officials say the chemical is an asphalt emulsifier that can burn skin if a person comes into contact with concentrated amounts. Upward of 24 gallons of it may have entered the water supply.

The discovery Wednesday of the leaked chemical has led schools to close and long lines at grocery stores where residents are stocking up on bottled water.


11 a.m.

City officials say a chemical in Corpus Christi's water supply was first discovered in water at a refinery in the city, prompting authorities to warn residents to avoid tap water.

City spokeswoman Kim Womack said at a news conference Thursday that the chemical is found in asphalt. Upward of 24 gallons of the chemical may have entered the water supply beginning Wednesday.

Another spokeswoman for the city, Deanna McQueen, said the leak first came to light Wednesday when workers at the refinery discovered the water coming from its faucets had a sheen.

Officials initially said two petroleum-based chemicals had contaminated the water supply.

Samples of the water have been sent to a lab in Austin.

It is not yet clear when the water will be safe to use.


10 a.m.

A Texas Gulf Coast city is warning its 320,000 residents not to use tap water due to concerns that two chemicals may have contaminated the water supply.

Corpus Christi officials said in a statement that a "back-flow incident" in an industrial area Wednesday may have led the chemicals to seep into the water.

The warning prompted a rush on water at grocery stores, where long lines formed with people pushing carts filled with packages of bottled water.

City Councilman Michael Hunter told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that it's unlikely the chemicals are concentrated enough to do harm, but officials are "taking every precaution that we can."

Corpus Christi has an aging infrastructure and in May the city issued a boil-water notice that lasted two weeks.