CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (NEXSTAR) — Thousands of Texans remain without water Friday night.
Residents in Corpus Christi were told Wednesday to not “drink or use the tap water” because of a chemical spill that started at a local industrial plant.
“Don’t drink it or even touch it.” That’s what the 300,000 residents in the coastal city were warned after a dangerous chemical called “asphalt emulsifier” made its way into the city’s water supply.
David Foster, the Texas director of Clean Water Action, said, “You’re not supposed to have contact with your skin. It can damage your eyes if you ingest it. It can cause problems with your digestive system. It’s a very toxic substance.”
It’s so dangerous that residents are being told to only use bottled water to cook and bathe. “As a community, I will tell you that our state, our country loves us,” said Kim Womack, spokesperson for the city. “They feel our pain and they are coming to our aide.”
Gov. Abbott called the crisis a top priority for his office. Sending 100,000 cases of water to the affected areas and putting the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in charge of fixing the problem and finding out who is to blame.
“We think this could potentially could be symptomatic of the failure of our agencies here in the state of Texas that are supposed to protect us from things like this, not doing their job,” Foster said.
City officials have already pointed the blame at “Ergon Asphalt,” the plant where the leak started, but Foster says it’s the state’s fault for not stepping in sooner. “We’re concerned that there may not have been adequate oversight from the [commission] to make sure there folks were protecting public health.
Foster says the responsible party should have to pay for all the bottled water shipments to the area rather than taxpayers. Businesses like Walmart and H-E-B have sent emergency shipments of water to the affected areas.
They say they will continue to provide assistance for as long as it is needed.