Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hazards in Houston

The Houston Ship Canal is home to the USA's largest petrochemical complex. Along the canal there are 10 major refineries and dozens of chemical manufacturing plants. The Gulf Restoration Network has mapped these and other oil facilities in the Gulf Coast that are in danger from flooding.

ExxonMobil admitted today that two of its refineries have been damaged by Hurricane Harvey and have released hazardous pollutants. One of these refineries, the Baytown oil refinery, is the second largest in the USA. The Beaumont refinery is the other ExxonMobil facility to report releasing hazardous pollutants. The Washington Post reports that "most of the other facilities belonging to major companies also filed notices with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality".

The Oil Contamination Risk map uses United States Environmental Protection Agency data to show oil facilities located at low elevations. If you zoom in on Houston you can view the locations of the facilities which are in danger from the present flooding. You can click on any facility on the map to discover its name.

ProPublica & the Texas Tribune has explored some of the inadequate defenses in place to protect these facilities. In Hell and High Water they explain the history behind the current defenses, some of the recent studies on improving their protection, and the reasons why Texan politicians will probably never support the building of proper flood prevention measures in the state.

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