New Report Shows That Six Oil Refineries in Houston, Texas Are Exposing Nearby Communities to Benzene and Cancer
According to a new report just released in February, almost half of all oil refineries with the highest cancer-causing benzene emissions in the entire United States are all located in Houston. Take the Total Petrochemicals refinery in Port Arthur: Benzene levels just at its fence-line were measured at almost 150 percent above what the Environmental Protection Agency has designated as the “action level,” which is the point at which a company should investigate. Sadly, the Total Petrochemicals refinery is also bordered by residential neighborhoods that are exposed to benzene every day and the resulting rampant air pollution harms a predominantly minority population.
Unfortunately, the facility is also not an anomaly in Texas: In 2002, a federal judge sentenced two men who operated chemical refineries in port Arthur and Port Neches to three years in prison after officials found that benzene emissions were “off the charts.” According to a Texas A&M study, some of the residents living adjacent to the refineries had benzene levels in their blood and urine that were 280 times the general population. Due to Hurricane Harvey, refineries like this one also leaked thousands of pounds of benzene into the air. As a result, Benzene has been called “the most ubiquitous hazardous air pollutant Houston has to deal with,” not only being a carcinogen, but also a precursor to ozone formation.
Children & Minorities Suffer The Most
The Upper Gulf Coast, which includes Brazoria, Harris, Jefferson, and several other counties, is sometimes referred to as the cancer belt of Texas because children living within two miles of the channel are almost 60 percent more likely to contract leukemia. In addition, along the Gulf Coast, minorities and the working class are much more likely to suffer the consequences of air pollution.
Local Agencies Not Doing Enough
Unfortunately, the state environmental agency – the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) – does very little to control or limit polluters even though the data indicates that dangerous emissions from refineries are affecting businesses, homes, parks, and schools. Individuals and organizations have sued the TCEQ before, arguing that the agency ignoring the facts and misapplying the law injures local communities. The agency has been accused, numerous times, of allowing polluters to exploit loopholes that provide them with permits and/or protect them from consequences.
Contact Our Houston Personal Injury Attorneys If You or A Loved One Has Been Harmed
If you or a loved one has been harmed by the negligence of a nearby oil refinery, Houston wrongful death attorney Sue E. West at the West Law Office understands just how important it is to receive justice for the harm done. Contact our office today to find out more about how we can help.