CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CN) — The 325,000 residents of Corpus Christi, Texas, face a water shortage after the city’s utility infrastructure was contaminated with an industrial chemical Wednesday night.
The city told residents their tap water was contaminated by a “back-flow incident” in the industrial district, which allowed a chemical into the utility system. It told residents to stop using tap water for virtually anything, “until further notice.”
It said to use bottled water for “beverage and food preparation ... making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes or clothes, washing hands, and bathing.”
Stores ran out of bottled water “within an hour of the city's announcement,” the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported Thursday.
Stores quickly raised prices of bottled water.
A Stripes gas station was charging $26.16 for a pack of 24 Nestle water bottles, according to a receipt from a "friend's friend" posted on Facebook by a city resident.
The contamination was caused by 3 to 24 gallons of Indulin AA86, an asphalt emulsifier made by Valero in Corpus Christi, according to the Caller-Times.
Valero told the newspaper that though the contamination happened at its plant, it was caused by "third party operations" near the facility.
Indulin AA86 is considered hazardous by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
It can burn the eyes and skin and damage the digestive system, including the gastrointestinal tract, though there are no known chronic health effects from contact with it.
The city said it was advising the measures “in an abundance of caution until we can investigate further and have the water tested.”
State Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, told the Caller-Times that the city is in "regular contact" with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The TCEQ will investigate, in conjunction with the city, the State Operations Center, the Health and Human Services Commission and the U.S. EPA Region 6.
Corpus Christi, on the Gulf of Mexico, is home of the fifth-largest port in the United States and is the eighth-largest city in Texas.