- Associated Press - Friday, December 16, 2016

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - The Latest on Corpus Christi residents being warned not to use the city’s tap water (all times local):

9:50 p.m.

Several lawsuits have been filed after a chemical leak from an asphalt plant led Corpus Christi officials to warn residents this week not to drink the water.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times (https://bit.ly/2hE1UHn ) reports more than half a dozen lawsuits have been filed against Ergon Asphalt and Emulsion Inc. and Valero since city officials alerted residents to the leak late Wednesday.

Ergon spokesman Bill Miller says the company’s been leasing the plant for its manufacturing purposes and Valero owns the plant.

Miller declined comment on the lawsuits. Valero officials say it’s not the contamination source.

The suits similarly allege Valero and Ergon of exposing unsuspecting business owners and residents to toxic chemicals and forcing businesses to close or struggle to stay open.

Lawyer Kathy Snapka says she’s filed a lawsuit on behalf of a beauty salon and laundry business and has been contacted by others seeking litigation.

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8:30 p.m.

Corpus Christi’s mayor is reiterating that it’s a “third party” that’s responsible for leaking a chemical into the city’s water system, which resulted in a ban on using water.

Dan McQueen said at a news conference Friday evening that, “It was not our city. It was not our team.”

He said a “bad actor” is responsible and the city is doing its best to get through the situation.

McQueen said the zone where all water use is still banned is “directly connected to where our bad actor was hooked up.”

When later asked about the term “bad actor” and if he would name the responsible party, he said: “I’m not the one calling that. That’s a legal issue.”

Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions Inc. said Thursday it was “working cooperatively” with state environmental officials to restore safe water service. The statement doesn’t take responsibility for the spill. Councilwoman Carolyn Vaughn tells the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that officials believe Ergon was responsible.

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5:50 p.m.

Texas regulators gave a rating of high environmental compliance at a Corpus Christi asphalt plant where a chemical leak led city officials to warn residents not to drink local tap water.

A five-year compliance report released Friday by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality isn’t a complete picture of the site’s regulatory history. Agency spokesman Terry Clawson says they are still looking for more information.

An email from a state environmental official shows that a “backflow incident from a chemical tank” was reported Dec. 7 at Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions. The company has said it’s working with state officials.

A spokesman for Ergon declined to explain Friday how a hazardous chemical may have entered the water supply.

Officials say limited water use is now allowed in some neighborhoods.

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2 p.m.

Restrictions on the use of tap water in Corpus Christi are easing as workers flush water pipes in the Gulf Coast city to make sure any remnants of a harmful chemical are removed.

Officials said Friday that limited use of water is allowed in some neighborhoods. They say it can be used for showering and washing clothes, but not yet for drinking. They warn that young children and those with weakened immune systems should avoid bathing so as not to accidentally swallow the water.

Officials announced Thursday that residents in some parts of the city can consume water however they wish, but there are still sections where authorities urge no use at all.

City leaders alerted residents Wednesday that up to 24 gallons of a chemical from an industrial plant may have leaked into a pipeline carrying water, allowing it to move to other areas of the city.

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1:30 p.m.

A chemical leak from an asphalt plant that led Corpus Christi, Texas, officials to warn residents Wednesday not to drink the water was apparently reported a week earlier.

An internal email sent Wednesday by Susan Clewis, a regional director for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, indicates that a “backflow incident from a chemical tank” was reported Dec. 7 at Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions.

The email doesn’t indicate who received that report, but the email indicates that the state agency only learned of the leak on Wednesday, when city officials warned the public.

The mayor of the Gulf Coast city of about 300,000 people has said local officials also only learned of the leak this Wednesday.

Neither Clewis nor city officials responded to Friday requests for comment.

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12:10 p.m.

Officials in Corpus Christi are releasing few details on a suspected chemical leak into the Texas city’s public water system as they await test results from the state to determine whether the water is safe to consume.

Mayor Dan McQueen said at a news briefing Friday that he hopes the tests determine that the water is safe to drink citywide.

But he didn’t address how the chemical may have entered the public water system from an industrial plant or when city officials were first notified of a problem at the plant.

Officials on Wednesday warned all of the Gulf Coast city’s 320,000 residents to stop using the water because of the leak. Late Thursday, the city said water in some areas was safe to use again.

The city manager said plenty of bottled water has been donated to help residents.

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1 a.m.

Officials are telling residents in outlying parts of Corpus Christi that they can safely drink tap water again, as the bulk of the city remains under an advisory to refrain from using it.

The city released a map late Thursday showing the parts of the city where it’s now safe to drink the water. Nearly 24 hours earlier, officials warned all residents to stop using it because of harmful chemical from an industrial plant that leaked into the supply.

Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions Inc. said in a statement late Thursday night that it was “working cooperatively” with state environmental officials to restore safe water service.

The statement doesn’t take responsibility for the spill, but Councilwoman Carolyn Vaughn tells the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that officials believe Ergon was responsible.

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