Jefferson County Judge Jeff Brannick Friday morning lifted the mandatory evacuation for people in Port Neches, Nederland, Groves, and North Port Arthur.
However, he emphasized police will set up barriers around the TPC butadiene plant that exploded and caught fire early Wednesday morning. Police will not let people within those restricted areas.
Texas Department of Public Safety troopers will be assisting and DPS has released tips for people returning to the evacuated areas.
* Do not drive around barricades.
* Beware of water hoses lying across the road and do not drive over them.
* Eliminate distractions in your vehicle. Give driving your full attention.
* Slow down.
Brannick said drone surveillance and thermal imagery Friday morning shows that progress has been made on containing the fires. Fires are being left to burn out the fuel in some of the tanks.
TPC spokesman Troy Monk said he expects the fires to be out later Friday.
Brannick emphasized people returning to the residences and businesses need to be wary of debris from the explosion. The TPC plant was built in the 1940s and some of the older equipment has asbestos.
If anyone finds a “white, chalky substance” or gray, or blanket-like objects, they should leave it alone and contact the TPC hotline at 866-601-5880. Brannick said company personnel will come and pick up the debris and conduct an air quality test if requested.
Air quality tests for asbestos fibers in the area were made yesterday and the test results should be back by the end of Friday, he said.
“Any debris or suspected debris should be left alone,” Monk said. “Any debris you have is potentially contaminated.”
Trained debris specialists will be sent out to collect the debris and safely dispose of it. He said the debris should not go into a regularn landfill.
The hotline to report damage was set up Wednesday morning. Monk said the company underestimated the number of calls and some people could not get anyone to answer. More operators have been added. He said the hotline system records numbers and those who did not get an answer originally could get a call back.
Brannick said people with damage should also notify their personnal insurance company in addition to the TPC hotline.
Officials during a media conference Friday morning thanked first responders and law agencies for their work in fighting the fires and patrolling the evacuated areas.