Unknown Chemical Spilled In Church Parking Lot

Several agencies are investigating a chemical spill in Whitehouse involving 50 gallons of an unknown substance. The spill, on County Road 2138 and FM 346, took place in the parking lot of a church.  Officials are working to determine what the chemical is and who dumped it there. Smith County Assistant Fire Marshal Marilynn Wilson says the substance could have washed down up to three miles from the church.

The substance was discovered Sunday in the parking lot of New Canaan Baptist Church. "I noticed the parking lot was covered with a liquid substance," said New Canaan Baptist Church facility engineer Willie Brown. Brown says he didn't think anything of that substance when he arrived at church yesterday but when the weather warmed up later in the day, Brown says the substance started giving off a fume.

Brown says about 15 to 20 members of the church started complaining of nausea, itchy eyes and a burning sensation in their nose and throat. That's when he called authorities.

Smith County officials collected the substance from the scene. Wilson says there's no danger to the water supply, but there is the chance the spill could affect wildlife. "It could get into somebody's creek bed and cause product contamination of grasslands, wetlands and animals that might drink it," said Wilson.

Wilson says the chemical could make its way to Prairie Creek, which empties over into Mud Creek which goes to Lake Tyler. Officials from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are looking into the situation. TxDOT was also at the scene laying sand on the road. The chemical mixing with the rain was expected to cause slippery conditions.

Officials ask that you if you have any information that you call Smith County Environmental Crimes Investigator Danny Brasher.

Oralia Ortega reporting, ortega@kltv.com