What you need to know about pollution released during Harvey

HOUSTON – A 31-page report on pollution released during Hurricane Harvey has been conducted and authored by the Environmental Integrity Project.

Researchers got all of the state records from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding unauthorized air pollution released in 2017 self-reported by the companies.

Here are some of the key findings:

Eight Houston area plants shut down within 24 hours of each other, releasing 1.3 million pounds of pollution, much of it triggered by flooding related mishaps such as electrical outages, equipment malfunctions and the failure of floating roof tanks.

Storage tanks holding crude oil, gasoline and other hydrocarbons that failed and released toxic pollutants were often poorly maintained and not designed to withstand heavy rainfall.

Residents of the Houston region were bombarded with extremely high levels of multiple air toxins, including benzene.

Key recommendations:

The TCEQ should plan, coordinate and stagger the shutdowns of major industrial facilities during hurricanes and other disasters.

Refineries and other petrochemical plants need to better prepare in advance of future hurricanes to minimize their emissions and the failures caused by storms.

The state needs to be better prepared to monitor air pollution during and immediately after natural disasters.

The TCEQ should ensure accurate reporting of air pollution releases to the State of Texas Environmental Electronic Reporting System database.

Plants that released the most storm-related pollution in the Houston area:

  • Magellan Terminals Holdings
  • Chevron Phillips Chemical Company
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation
  • Valero Energy Partners
  • Phillips 66 Company
  • KM Liquid Terminals
  • The Dow Chemical Company
  • Shell Oil Company
  • Arkema

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