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Thread: US Coast Guard, EPA cleaning up a dozen Texas chemical spills after Harvey

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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    US Coast Guard, EPA cleaning up a dozen Texas chemical spills after Harvey

    US Coast Guard, EPA cleaning up a dozen Texas chemical spills after Harvey



    By Emily Flitter
    ,ReutersSeptember 11, 2017





    1 / 4

    Vehicles sit amid leaked fuel mixed in with flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in Port Arthur, Texas

    Vehicles sit amid leaked fuel mixed in with floodwaters in the parking lot of Motiva Enterprises LLC in Port Arthur. REUTERS/Adrees Latif


    By Emily Flitter
    HOUSTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency are working with Texas state regulators to clean up oil and chemicals spilled from a dozen industrial facilities after flooding from Hurricane Harvey, authorities said.

    The spills came from oil refineries, fuel terminals and other businesses, but EPA spokeswoman Terri White said it was not possible to provide an estimate for the amounts spilled.


    "Initial reports were based on observation," White said. "Some spills were already being cleaned up by the time EPA or other officials arrived to assess them and others had already migrated offsite."


    Refineries owned by Valero Energy Corp in Houston, Motiva Inc in Port Arthur, and Exxon Mobile Corp in Baytown, were among the facilities that had reported spills, according to White. Representatives for those companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


    Officials also reported spills at Kinder Morgan Inc's Pasadena fuel storage terminal and at an oil terminal in Texas City owned by NuStar Energy LP.


    Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Lexey Long said on Monday the company reported a spill of 500 barrels of gasoline on Aug. 27. Workers covered the spill with a foam blanket and set up a barrier to keep the public away.


    "The spill has been fully remediated," she said.

    NuStar representatives had no immediate comment.

    Two wastewater treatment plants - Integrity Golden Triangle Marine Services of Port Arthur and San Jacinto River and Rail in Beaumont - also appeared on the list of spill response locations that EPA provided to Reuters.


    San Jacinto River and Rail said it spilled a "foamy emulsion" when floodwaters overtopped the berms around its facility.


    "Some is on our property and some is on adjacent property which has already been cleaned up," said spokesman Dennis Winkler. "We do not expect a long-term environmental impact. We do not expect there will be any air impact or health impacts."

    Representatives from Integrity Golden Triangle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    The liquid spills come in addition to more than a million pounds of toxic emissions above legal limits that spewed from industrial facilities following Harvey, according to reports from companies filed with the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality.


    The EPA and other authorities had warned people affected by the flood that waters could contain bacteria and toxic chemicals, but have said little yet about the specific origins or quantities of substances.


    Residents in Baytown, where houses sit along the Houston Ship Channel next to several major refineries and chemical plants, said they were concerned about the impact of the spills and releases on health.


    "I'm against the sword and the wall, what can I do?" said Carlos Caban, one of the residents, whose son had taken pictures of contaminated-looking floodwaters in nearby refinery site.


    Several residents reported seeing a metallic sheen on water flowing near the plants during the heaviest flooding, posting videos to YouTube.

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-coast-...--finance.html
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    Good they're on top of it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    In post-Harvey Houston, extent of water contamination largely unknown

    Government agencies and scientists are still trying to get a handle on what exactly is percolating in lingering floodwaters — and who might be most impacted.
    BY KATIE RIORDAN SEPT. 8, 20174 PM



    Chris Ginter, center, tries to convince a resident of a flooded neighborhood near Buffalo Bayou in Houston to evacuate in his monster truck on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017.
    Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

    When Houston-based epidemiologist Winifred Hamilton spent a few days in the field last week collecting samples of the abundant floodwater Tropical Storm Harvey had left in its wake, she was able to practice the health safety advice she had urged her fellow Houstonians to follow.
    After a day’s work, she disinfected everything she had carried with her, including her purse, cellphone and keys. She was also sure to wash the clothes she had worn in a separate load of laundry and showered before getting into bed. And, of course, she had worn gloves, boots and other protective clothing during her work — she wasn’t entirely sure what was in the floodwater.
    “We know that some neighborhoods have been contaminated by gas stations or industries,” said Hamilton, who heads the Environmental Health Service at Baylor College of Medicine. “We are checking for that stuff.”
    Government officials and academic scientists say they’re still trying to get a handle on what exactly is percolating in the lingering floodwaters through which many Houstonians are still wading as they return to their homes to inspect damages and recover personal belongings.

    They already know it’s some mix of bacteria, viruses, metals and other potentially toxic pollutants leached from the myriad of refineries and chemical plants in the area, along with an untold number of submerged septic tanks and dozens of Superfund sites.

    But collecting enough samples to draw sweeping conclusions about how polluted the water is, and the impact to specific neighborhoods, could take a while — especially as government agencies grapple with staffing shortfalls.

    “We’re trying to get a good picture of what’s in the water,” said Latrice Babin, the deputy director of pollution control for Harris County. But she said the staff of about ten water samplers at the agency are struggling to complete testing of industrial sites and waste water treatment facilities.
    Of the 450-plus wastewater sites in Harris County, the third most populous county in the country, Babin said there are still about 30 that she has been unable to contact to understand whether they were compromised by flooding.
    “They could be sending fluids into the bayous,” she said, adding that only time and testing will tell.
    Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Friday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had completed site assessments at all 43 Superfund sites in areas affected by the storm. He said in a press release that two of those sites — the San Jacinto Waste Pits and the U.S. Oil Recovery — will require further assessment, which will take several days to complete.
    Low-income and minority communities could be particularly impacted. An analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity released Friday found that nine of 16 flooded Superfund sites are in neighborhoods where a majority of residents are minority or low-income.
    At least 168 water systems across the state impacted by Harvey still have boil-water notices, including the system in Beaumont, and 50 are shut down, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The agency also says it’s actively monitoring wastewater facilities that have reported spills.
    Earlier this year, the TCEQ had expressed concern about understaffing of investigators who may conduct water sampling. In a letter to the state’s budget director in April, the agency asked for an exemption to hire 24 investigators lost to workforce attrition after Abbott's hiring freeze on state agencies. But a TCEQ spokeswoman said the agency had filled all but one of those positions by the time Hurricane Harvey made landfall Aug. 25.
    On Thursday, Abbott said the TCEQ was “working hand in hand” with the EPA to ensure that toxic chemical sites were being monitored.
    Public health officials are also imploring unregulated private well owners to assume their water source is compromised, decontaminate it and then take a water sample to ensure quality.
    Because private wells are not regulated, there are no official numbers as to how many might be impacted, but Michael Schaffer, director of environmental public health for Harris County, estimates there may be thousands in the county.
    Winifred and other university-affiliated researchers who are conducting independent water sampling studies say initial water sampling tests in the Houston area indicate floodwaters contain very high levels of E. coli, most likely due to sewage contamination.
    Qilin Li, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Rice University, says her water sampling still requires more analysis but initial results reveal that some areas have more than 100 times the rate the EPA recommends for allowable levels of the bacteria in recreational water.
    “That’s very bad,” Li said. But she said that bacterial contamination is not unexpected or uncommon in post-flood situations, which is why public health officials are urging people to take precautions and minimize their exposure to floodwater as they re-enter homes and return to previously habitable areas.
    On Friday, The New York Times reported that callers had reported 96 oil, chemical or sewage spills across southeast Texas from Aug. 26 to Sept. 3.
    As water testing continues to determine the impact of these reported spills, public health officials are on the lookout for immediate health effects.
    A local Houston television station, KRPC, reported that a medic had contracted a skin infection commonly known as “flesh eating bacteria” after exposure to floodwater during a rescue operation.
    Dr. James McCarthy, the chief of emergency medicine in the Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute, said the hospital has seen an uptick in soft tissue infections since the storm. That’s not surprising given that people are spending a lot of time in polluted floodwater as they escape their homes or rescue others, he said.
    Moving forward, McCarthy said doctors are on the lookout for unusual pathogens and mosquito-borne illnesses.
    “This could be a tough environment for things like West Nile [virus] and other outbreaks,” he said.
    But he also cautioned people not to panic and to ensure they are receiving accurate information.
    At one point, he said, a rumor was circulating that anyone who was splashed with floodwater needed to get a tetanus shot. Only those who haven’t had one in ten years or who have been injured are advised to get a shot, he said.
    Hamilton said residents should remain vigilant, within reason.
    “You want to know how to clean properly, but we don’t want to be germaphobes,” she said. “Remember to eat, sleep and drink.”

    https://www.texastribune.org/2017/09...ation-unknown/

    Disclosure: Rice University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
    Read related Tribune coverage:

    • Tens of thousands of Texans live in places where the drinking water contains toxic levels of arsenic — a known carcinogen — and the state isn’t doing enough to discourage them from consuming it, according to a new report from an environmental group. [Full story]
    • As Houston begins to recover from Harvey, a growing chorus of voices is calling for big policy changes to reduce flood damage from future disasters. Local officials haven't said much about what they might pursue, but history offers some clues. [Full story]
    • Weeks after his first special session ended on a sour note, Gov. Greg Abbott has drawn largely positive reviews for his role as Texas' crisis-commander-in-chief amid the lead up to and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. [Full story]


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  4. #4
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    This is why we should not have given these dirty industries freedom to pollute especially when they can dissolve & walk away - taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for cleaning up - if and when that happens.

    I've seen many an area later exposed for having some sort of industry with toxic elements, gone and now a housing community. Delaware with Dupont and other polluters there for years has made the state a cancer hot pocket.

    You don't have to see or smell things that can cause cancer - they seep into the ground, the well water or rivers, streams. Southern New Jersey used to be filled with orchards and heavily inundated with cancer causing pesticides. Now all new homes/developments. There is also a high cancer rate there.

    When you combine toxic industry with toxic consumer products - you have lot of deadly ingredients. Would rather see regulations. We need regulations and research - no carte' blanche for polluters.
    Last edited by artist; 09-11-2017 at 05:59 PM.

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    I agree on regulations, but that isn't going to happen.

    Pollution is possibly one of the reasons a lot of manufacturing went overseas. That way they could walk away from their toxic waste and taxpayers have to clean it up - or just live with it.

    For many miles along that part of the Texas coastline there is nothing but oil and chemical facilities.

    We were working down there once and had to stay in the area. I didn't sleep. All night, I kept waiting to hear sirens or explosions. It's pretty frightening.

    If I were God, I'd have to be God, I would only allow enough drilling and refining for what we need in this country. I don't like having to live with the poisons for exporting all these products to the rest of the world.

    That goes for agribusiness corporations as well. They do a huge amount of polluting and get subsidized for doing it. Nice work, if you can get it.

    It will be a while before any gulf seafood can/should be eaten.
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Irma brings fears of surge, sewers and toxins to Tampa area

    Toxic waste sites from the state's phosphorous mining industry. . .

    The region is also home to more than half of Florida's 51 Superfund sites - areas designated as some of the most toxic places in the nation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Many are old chemical or oil storage facilities that left behind a legacy of dangerous contamination in soil and groundwater . . .
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Regs need to be in place for polluting industries otherwise will be more Superfund sites and cancers. A petition circulating below re mining methods.

    If the regs are too complicated, streamline them but protect us from gas, oil, mining, pesticide overuse in every corner of land and waterways. There is no balance when profiteers are given carte blanche and very dangerous to let these industries run roughshod. Their demands are off the wall too. In Pennsylvania, fracking industries want no regs or to regulate themselves. They want to be exempt from severance taxes or clean ups. With all the destruction from thousands of wells and they plan thousands more as well as pipelines/eminent domain to liquifying stations to EXPORT LNG too, Pa residents shouldn't have to hear raise taxes to meet the budget. We are getting nothing from this assault on our Penn's Woods; they even bring their own labor force Some have been turning rural females into prostitutes, supplying drugs to them too.

    Help Protect Western Water from Uranium Mining!

    "Dear Administrator Pruitt:

    I urge you to strengthen and finalize the “re-proposed” uranium mining rule (40 CFR Part 192) that protects communities across the west from irreversible groundwater contamination caused by in-situ leach uranium mining.

    This rule was proposed to address urgent concerns about the billions of gallons of groundwater in scarce western aquifers that have and will be contaminated as a result of this type of mining on lands from Texas to Wyoming. Your own agency’s scientists have found that cleaning up this groundwater contamination has proven to be more difficult than expected and can lead to a significant drop in water tables.

    I hope that as you make this decision, Administrator Pruitt, you will consider your great responsibility to protect the lives and health of communities across the west.

    Please do the right thing and protect the American people, not the energy industry. The future of this region depends on it. Thank you."



    https://act.nrdc.org/letter/protect-...60857%2Eef9NHT

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