Weihsueh Chiu Pic Fire

effects of the itc fire response on the houston ship channel
Presented by dr. Weihsueh a. chiu

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
6:00 - 7:00 pm




Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances in the Houston Ship Channel Following Firefighting Foam Deployment at the Intercontinental Terminal Company Fire

Following the fires at Intercontinental Terminal Company (ITC) in Deer Park on March 17, 2019, more than 130,000 gallons of Class B firefighting foams were used, causing these materials to flow into the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay (HSC/GB). Firefighting foams contain Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – a class of compounds widely used as surfactants. PFAS are persistent organic pollutants that have been reported as contaminants in waterways and drinking water systems across the United States. In partnership with the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF), the Texas A&M University Superfund Research Program evaluated the impact of the ITC incident response on PFAS levels in HSC/GB. Time course data shows a sharp spike in PFAS levels in the days and weeks after the incident and a gradual decline by mid-June 2019 with patterns consistent with the tidal flow in HSC/GB. This work demonstrates the impact of an industrial incident on the water quality in HSC/GB and establishes baseline levels for PFAS for future comparisons.

Weihsueh A. Chiu, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences at Texas A&M University. Before joining the university in 2015, he worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for more than 14 years, most recently as branch chief in the Office of Research and Development. His research in human health risk assessment includes toxicokinetics, physiologically-based pharmacokinetic modeling, characterizing uncertainty and variability, systematic review, and meta-analysis, with particular interest in Bayesian and probabilistic methods. Dr. Chiu received an AB in Physics from Harvard University, a MA and PhD in Physics from Princeton University, and a Certificate in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affair.

Houston Maritime Museum
2311 Canal Street, Suite 101 | Houston, Texas 77003 


"A formidable looking pile of iron boilers and machinery": reconstrucTing the civil war gunboat uss westfield
PRESENTED BY justin parkoff, ph.d.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Houston Maritime Museum


USS Westfield belonged to an unusual class of civilian vessels that the Navy converted during the American Civil War to serve in the Union’s blockade of Confederate southern ports. Originally built and operated as a double-ended ferryboat, the vessel was purchased by the Navy from the New York Staten Island ferry service. Westfield served as the flagship for the West Gulf Blockading Squadron’s operations along the Texas Gulf Coast. The vessel last saw action in 1863 at the Battle of Galveston where it ran aground and was blown up by its crew to keep the vessel out of Confederate hands. In 2009, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) orchestrated Westfield’s recovery in advance of their operations to deepen the Texas City Channel. Archaeologists recovered approximately 8,000 artifacts during the salvage operation including a 9” smoothbore Dahlgren cannon. The USACE sent these artifacts to the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University where the artifacts underwent conservation and study. In May, 2014, the Houston Maritime Museum hosted a presentation on the Westfield during the conservation phase of the project. Now complete, this follow up presentation will describe the seven year project and how numerous components of the vessel were physically reconstructed and placed on permanent display at the Texas City Museum.

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