Environment

5.7 million pounds of air pollution released in Texas after Harvey landfall


According to reports filed by companies to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), 2.6 million kg (5.7 million pounds) of hazardous chemicals were released into the air by chemical plants, oil refineries, and industrial facilities from August 23 to September 25, following Hurricane “Harvey” landfall. 90% of total reported air pollution was released by 13 companies while 90% of the most hazardous chemicals were released by 10 companies.

TCEQ reports submitted by petrochemical refineries, chemical plants, oil & gas compressor stations, terminals, and other industrial sites provide estimates of the type and amounts of chemicals released, in pounds. Data includes pollution from the shutdown and start-up process for many refineries and chemical plants, as well as releases due to physical damage from Harvey. Data collection, performed by Greenpeace with the help from Athena Matyear, began on September 5 and, as of October 25, is still missing 20 final reports which remain un-filed.

In total, 2.6 million kg (5.7 million pounds) of chemicals were released in the month after Harvey made landfall. Some 690 000 kg (1.52 million pounds) are considered particularly hazardous.

90% of the most hazardous chemicals, including benzene, 1,3-butadiene, ethylbenzene, hexane, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, toluene, and xylenes, were released by 10 companies. Most of those ten were refineries.

42 out of 45 facilities are located in communities with above-average rates of poverty (excludes 11 facilities without available data), and 43 out of 45 facilities with available data in communities that are disproportionately inhabited by people of color (excludes 11 facilities without available data), Greenpeace states.

Total air pollution reported: 5,700,328 lbs

Total of most hazardous chemicals: 1,529,483 lbs

12 companies responsible for 90% percent of total air pollution:

  1. Magellan Midstream Partners, (2.529 million lbs, 44.4% of total)
  2. Valero Energy (579,351 lbs, 10%)
  3. Saudi Aramco (439,244 lbs, 7.7%)
  4. Dow Chemical (352,640 lbs, 6.1%)
  5. INEOS (244,111 lbs, 4.3%)
  6. Kinder Morgan (166,057 lbs, 2.9%)
  7. Formosa Plastics (160,692 lbs, 2.8%)
  8. Total (155,726 lbs, 2.7%)
  9. ExxonMobil (130,928 lbs, 2.3%)
  10. Enbridge (115,484 lbs, 2%)
  11. Royal Dutch Shell (114,996, 2%)
  12. LyondellBasell (114,749, 2%)
    Total = 5,103,197; 90%

10 companies responsible for 90% percent of most hazardous chemicals:

  1. Magellan Midstream Partners, (534,310 lbs, 34.9%)
  2. Valero Energy (274,051 lbs, 17.9%)
  3. Saudi Aramco (179,118 lbs, 11.7%)
  4. Total (147,823 lbs, 9.7%)
  5. Enbridge (74,970 lbs, 4.9%)
  6. Dow Chemical (53,844 lbs, 3.5%)
  7. ExxonMobil (45,949 lbs, 3%)
  8. Cabot Oil & Gas (33,611 lbs, 2.2%)
  9. Royal Dutch Shell (32,777 lbs, 2.1%)
  10. Marathon Petroleum (24,768 lbs, 1.6%)
    Total = 1,401,221 lbs, 91.6%

Cities facing the most air pollution:

  1. Galena Park (2.529 million lbs, 44.7% of total)
  2. Port Arthur (931,264 lbs, 16.34%)
  3. Freeport (351,519 lbs, 6.17%)
  4. Corpus Christi (301,734 lbs, 5.29%)
  5. Alvin (242,323 lbs, 4.25%)
  6. Houston (239,003 lbs, 4.19%)

Cities facing the most toxic chemicals:

  1. Galena Park (534,310 lbs, 34.9%)
  2. Port Arthur (508,793 lbs, 33.3%)
  3. Corpus Christi (112,377 lbs, 7.4%)
  4. Streetman (74,970 lbs, 4.9%)
  5. Freeport (53,842 lbs, 3.5%)

The research is available online at the following link: Hurricane Harvey Air Pollution: Interactive Database

Featured image: Port Arthur, Texas on August 31, 2017. Credit: SC National Guard



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