(Adds details on water distribution, comment from governor's
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas Dec 15 The Texas city of Corpus
Christi told its nearly 320,000 residents on Thursday to stop
using tap water due to possible contamination from an industrial
chemical leak and said it will distribute bottled water to
The city said it was investigating the possible leak of up
to 24 gallons (91 liters) of an asphalt emulsifier called
Indulin AA-86. The governor's office said it will ship drinking
water to the city and is "aggressively monitoring" the
The chemical can cause eye and skin burns, respiratory tract
irritation and damage to the digestive systems but is not known
to be carcinogenic, according to safety data.
"Do not try to treat the water yourself. Boiling, freezing,
filtering, adding chlorine or other disinfectants, or letting
the water stand will not make the water safe," the city said in
The Gulf of Mexico coastal city, home to oil and
petrochemicals operations and a large port, asked residents to
use only bottled water and to avoid showering with tap water
until it could verify the water supply was safe.
The city expected water testing results later on Thursday
and told residents to discontinue tap water use at least until
then. Local officials plan to set up spots in the city to
distribute bottled water.
City spokeswoman Kim Womack said several area cities and
supermarkets are donating water, and she appealed to others to
send drinking water to Corpus Christi.
"We feel very grateful that people are coming to our aid,"
Womack told a news conference.
The chemical may have contaminated Corpus Christi's drinking
water due to a "back-flow incident in the industrial district,"
the city said, without providing further details.
Energy company Valero said it believed the possible
backflow problem came from third-party operations in the area of
its asphalt terminal.
"While the City continues to investigate this issue, we do
not believe the City's water has been impacted," it said in a
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Erwin
Seba in Houston and Jim Forsyth in San Antonio; Editing by
Andrew Hay and Dan Grebler)