Petrochemical giants dumped deadly carcinogens during Hurricane Harvey


Petrochemical giants dumped deadly carcinogens during Hurricane Harvey

Gary Joad

12 September 2017

As Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey bore down on and flooded the northern Gulf Coast last month with an estimated 20 trillion gallons of rain, some 60 plants belonging to the world’s petrochemical giants on the Texas coast began shutdown procedures. During this time they vented and dumped almost a million pounds of some of the most deadly chemical compounds on earth.

“Total air pollutants from all oil and gas facilities added up to 5.6 million pounds,” according to an analysis released September 1 by the Center for Biological Diversity. The deadly cocktail that included benzene, hexane, sulfur dioxide, 1,3-butadiene, and xylene were dumped or spilled during the storm by ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron Phillips and other petrochemical giants over a period of eight days beginning August 23.

Reports filed by the refining industry with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) confirmed that residents of Harris County and the surrounding area sustained 61 percent of the un-permitted emissions of toxic dumping than occurred in all of 2016. The dumping of these compounds included over 13 tons of benzene.

Significantly, Houston, Texas has never met national air quality standards since the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970.

When TCEQ spokeswoman Andrea Morrow was queried about the findings, she was quoted as saying, “All measured concentrations were well below levels of health concern,” and that “local residents should not be concerned about air quality issues related to the effects of the storm.” The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated it was observing the situation with “air quality buses,” though how this was done in the midst…

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