Smelling Blind in the East End

SMELLING BLIND IN THE EAST END A possible cause of the nasty smells that caused East End residents headaches, sore and scratchy throats, and itchy eyes as Hurricane Harvey approached and inundated the area? Houston-area industrial plants in the last week released more than 2.25 million pounds of emissions above legal limits, according to an Environment Texas tally of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality data. The reason: plant shutdowns before the onset of the storm and startups after it left. “So far,” writes Emily Atkin, “TCEQ has not indicated these events have triggered health impacts. . . . TCEQ Media Relations Manager Andrea Miller told me the agency or local emergency officials would contact residents if an immediate health threat were to occur. What’s more, Miller said companies were probably reporting higher emissions that what actually occurred, ‘since underreporting can result in higher penalties.It’s unclear, however, how TCEQ would check many of the companies’ reports, since the agency turned off all its air quality monitors in the Houston area before Harvey hit. Miller confirmed as much on Monday, saying devices were either turned off or removed “to protect against damage or loss of these sensitive and expensive instruments.” [The New Republic] Photo of ExxonMobil Baytown refinery: Louis Vest [license]  

4 Comment

  • Trust the TCEQ to provide all the news that’s fit to estimate.

  • Long overdue to relocate all these petrochemical plants away from the inner city. They are a health and safety hazard for millions of residents. And some claim Houston’s type of growth is the “way of the future”. Yeah, right.

  • I am sick and tired of these job-killing regulations limiting our access to refined chemicals! Those goddam treehuggers over at the TCEQ should just leave those devices turned off.

  • TCEQ turned off the monitors to protect them? I thought they were supposed to protect the public. When will they be turned back on? And who made the decision to turn them off?