Toxic Impact Of Hurricane Harvey Laid Bare

   03.22.18

Hurricane Harvey was a perfect storm situation. The hurricane was blocked by two ridges of high pressure. It stalled, moved back out into the Gulf of Mexico, restrengthened and then made a second landfall.

While news outlets were focused on the residential sections of Houston, the industrial areas were faced with a nightmare situation. There was a fire, a pipeline ruptured, and flood waters breached a hazardous chemical containment area.

In all, Hurricane Harvey caused more than 100 hazardous chemical releases. The public was not notified of some of the releases until recently. When the public was first notified, the chemical release size was downplayed.

Between just two refineries, around 500,000 gallons of crude oil and gasoline spilled into the environment.

From Fox 4 in Beaumont, Texas – Hurricane Harvey’s toxic impact deeper than public told.

Some 500 chemical plants, 10 refineries and more than 6,670 miles of intertwined oil, gas and chemical pipelines line the nation’s largest energy corridor.

Nearly half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater mixed with storm water surged out of just one chemical plant in Baytown, east of Houston on the upper shores of Galveston Bay.

Benzene, vinyl chloride, butadiene and other known human carcinogens were among the dozens of tons of industrial toxins released into surrounding neighborhoods and waterways following Harvey’s torrential rains.

The article reads like something from a science fiction novel. A worse case natural disaster that caused an environmental nightmare.

Something the article hints at but did not discuss – where did the chemicals go? A lot of them were washed away by the flood waters. Where did the flood waters go? They went into the Gulf of Mexico.

On a personal note, I wonder if the environmental agencies are testing beaches along the Texas coast? Due to the gulf stream, there is a chance the chemicals ended up on the beaches south of Houston. It would be interesting to see what tests of the sand on Galveston beach shows, or even the beaches of Corpus Christi.

These disasters reach a point where they are impossible to clean up. What would the government do with millions of tons of contaminated soil?

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