This report focuses on the pollution and adverse health effects that resulted from the impact of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 on the operations of oil refineries and other chemical facilities in the US Gulf Coast region. This report details ways in which some of the challenges relating to air and water pollution can be addressed in the hopes that in the case of future large storms, taking a deep breath will offer a release of anxiety—not a trip to the emergency room. Texas can do much more to protect vulnerable communities from industrial air and water pollution during natural disasters.
The report by the Environmental Integrity Project relies on reports and data from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as well as federal records. This report concerns only unpermitted or illegal air pollution releases – that is, emissions during industrial accidents, startups, shutdowns, and maintenance that companies report to the state as being above and beyond what their state-issued Clean Air Act permits allow during normal operations.