Premature To Remove Texas City From The Air Pollution Watch List
Last week, EDF, along with Air Alliance Houston (AAH), submitted comments to the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) reflecting why we believe the proposed removal of Texas City for the pollutants benzene and hydrogen sulfide from the state’s Air Pollution Watch List (APWL) is premature.
The APWL is a list of areas in Texas where concentrations of harmful pollutants exceed the state’s own health-based screening level guidelines. While inclusion on the list indicates that additional scrutiny is given to permits issued to facilities in the area, some of the APWL areas have been listed for over a decade. This is significant because exposure to these toxics may impact human health and may lead to serious health outcomes, such as birth defects or cancer.
EDF has been actively engaged with TCEQ to improve management of the APWL program and to renew efforts to improve air quality in hotspot areas. TCEQ first added Texas City to the Air Pollutant Watch List in 2001 because of elevated concentrations of propionaldehyde. The organization added benzene in 2003 because the annual average concentration at the Ball Park Monitor exceeded the long-term health-based Air Monitoring Comparison Value (AMCV) of 1.0 ppb. Hydrogen sulfide was then added in 2004 based on mobile and stationary monitoring data showing exceedances of the 0.08 parts per million (ppm) threshold.
TCEQ’s proposal claims that recent air monitoring information justifies the removal of Texas City from the APWL. However, new analyses completed by EDF and AAH, indicate that data from the current monitoring network are not adequate in justifying the removal of Texas City from the APWL. Here are a few reasons why:
Air monitoring information has not been correlated with wind direction, meaning that the existing monitoring network does not capture the predominant downwind concentrations of pollutants in neighborhoods closest to the largest sources. As illustrated in the insert, the largest concentration of benzene is expected in between the existing monitors. BP Texas City: The largest emitter in the area is also the worst environmental performer. BP Texas City is ranked as the largest benzene emitter in the region, not just the state. On March 23, 2005, an explosion killed 15 employees and injured 170 as a result of workers re-starting a unit at the BP refinery that had been closed for repairs. The problem started when workers filled a tank with 138 feet of flammable liquid, when it should have been filled with only 6.5 feet of liquid. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that BP had cut costs, resulting in risky working conditions, which were likely the cause of the catastrophic event. An investigation by the Chemical Safety Board found numerous problems, including out-of-date equipment, corroded pipes, and faulty safety alarms. This explosion has been characterized as one of the worst workplace incident in the U.S. between 1989 and 2005. BP Texas City II: More recently in November 2011, there were reports of gas leaks at the BP Texas City refinery. A concerned citizen initially reported a sulfur dioxide leak to the National Response Center. BP confirmed an ongoing leak of methyl mercaptan; the odor was so toxic that 30 workers from a neighboring plant downwind were taken to the hospital. Bottom line: It is too early to remove Texas City from the APWL for benzene or hydrogen sulfide. While we appreciate the efforts that the state has made in working to improve air quality in the Texas City region, there is strong evidence that residents in Texas City continue to be at higher risk for health impacts from pollutants such as benzene.
We therefore recommend that the agency place additional monitoring equipment in the areas expected to have the highest concentration of pollutants. Only properly sited monitors with validated data can justify a delisting. Without proper data collection and analysis, the TCEQ cannot ensure that it is maintaining the Air Pollutant Watch List in a manner that protects public health.
 The long-term AMCV for benzene has since been made less health protective, with a revised AMCV of 1.4 ppb.
Benzene Monitoring Data Support APWL Delisting in Texas City
Monitoring shows that annual average benzene concentrations are consistently below the TCEQ's screening level of 1.4 parts per billion (ppb). No adverse health effects would be expected if annual average concentrations remain below 1.4
ppb. Stationary monitoring data show that the annual average benzene concentrations have remained below 1.4 ppb for two consecutive years.
The TCEQ will accept public comments on its proposed delistings. The comment period begins on March 11, 2013, and will end on April 26, 2013. You may email comments to the APWL coordinator APWL@tceq.texas.gov APWL@tceq.texas.gov; or mail comments to:
Tara Capobianco Air Pollutant Watch List Coordinator Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Air Permits Division MC-163 P.O. Box 13087 Austin, Texas 78711-3087
The TCEQ will hold a public meeting to answer questions and receive public comments on its proposed delistings on Thursday, April 11, 2013, at 6:00 p.m. at the Wings of Heritage Room in the Nessler Center, located at 2010 5th Avenue North, Texas City.
Where is the Area of Concern Located?
* South of TX Avenue/State Hwy 348
* East of Hwy 146
* West of Galveston Bay (West Bay)
Why is this Location and Pollutant(s) on the APWL?
During the 2000 and 2001 mobile monitoring projects, concentrations of propionaldehyde were detected above the odor-based air monitoring comparison value (AMCV) downwind of Dow Chemical (formerly Union Carbide). Although no odorous levels were detected in the 2004 mobile monitoring project, odorous levels were detected during the 2008 mobile monitoring project.
Elevated benzene levels have been detected during mobile monitoring projects from 2001 to 2008, downwind of various facilities throughout the Texas City area. Some of the concentrations detected during these projects have exceeded the short-term AMCV and several detections could contribute to elevated long-term concentrations. In addition, long-term stationary monitoring in the Texas City area has historically detected annual ambient concentrations of benzene above the long-term AMCV. The 11th Street monitor, funded by Marathon, has consistently had annual average benzene concentrations above the long-term AMCV since monitoring began in 2004. Data from the 34th Street monitor, funded by BP North America Products, Inc., indicated a 70% decrease in annual average benzene concentrations from 2005 to 2008; although emission events in 2009 lead to an elevated annual average.
A 2004 mobile monitoring trip reported hydrogen sulfide (H2S) levels that exceeded the H2S 30-minute state regulatory standard. These reported levels had the potential to cause short-term odor-related health effects downwind of Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority (GCWDA) and Valero. A subsequent mobile monitoring project in 2008 did not detect any concentrations of H2S above the regulatory standard. Limited stationary monitoring data indicated a decreasing trend in H2S from 2004 until 2008. In 2009, however, there were 16 exceedances at the Texas City Ball Park monitor. Annual evaluations may be accessed here:
see map here ;
BP et al, and the likes there from, will just love this $$$
18 September 2012
In 2010, BP-one of the largest energy companies in the world-is alleged to have released MILLIONS of pounds of benzene into the air over a 40-day period through an improperly-working flare at one of its Texas refineries.
Dangers of Benzene Exposure
Benzene is a carcinogenic chemical that is present in crude oil and gasoline. It is a common chemical used in various industries, however, exposure can have devastating health consequences for those who have been exposed.
It is known to cause multiple types of debilitating diseases, including leukemia, plastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkins' lymphoma.
Occupational Studies in Women
1) Benzene – Breast cancer risk was higher in several large-scale studies of women working in jobs exposed to high levels of benzene (as an organic solvent) (Hansen, 1999; Petralia et al., 1998
Benzene – Breast cancer risk was higher in several large-scale studies of women working in jobs exposed to high levels of benzene (as an organic solvent) (Hansen, 1999; Petralia et al., 1998). More studies are needed on whether benzene inhalation in other professions affects the risk of breast cancer.
Laboratory Animal Studies The National Toxicology Program has found the following chemicals capable of inducing mammary tumors in long-term cancer studies conducted in rats and mice (NTP, 2007). All of these chemicals can be generated in various fire scenarios.
Translating the Evidence about Breast Cancer Related Disparities in African American Women: A Comprehensive Community-based Program in Galveston County
Introduction: From 2003-2007, Galveston County ranked 22nd among Texas’s 254 counties in cancer mortality with 220 cancer deaths/100,000 (SEER database). The rate exceeds that of Texas (177/100,000) and the U.S. (160/100,000) and fails to meet the Healthy People 2010 Objective of 160/100,000. African American Texans annual cancer mortality is 223/100,000 compared to Non-Hispanic Whites (179/100.00) and Hispanics (130/100,000). African American breast cancer mortality in Galveston County is 34.8/100,000 compared to 26.3 and 21.2 for Non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanics. The Texas Cancer Plan reports that poverty drives disparities through lack of resources, information and knowledge; substandard living; risk promoting lifestyles; and diminished access to services. The evidence based indicates that contributors to disparities include behavioral factors (increased time to complete diagnostic workups from abnormal mammograms, more missed mammogram appointments, and unhealthy diets); environmental factors (lower socioeconomic status, higher levels of inadequate communication of abnormal mammography screening results), and genetic factors (more aggressive tumors).
2011 Texas Selected Cancer Facts Galveston County
From: Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
Sent: Monday, March 25, 2013 10:58 AM
To: APWL@tceq.texas.gov Subject: TCEQ Proposes Removal of Two Pollutants from the Texas City APWL Area--Benzene and Hydrogen Sulfide
Greetings TCEQ, Tara Capobianco, et al,
The TCEQ will accept public comments on its proposed delistings. The comment period begins on March 11, 2013, and will end on April 26, 2013. You may email comments to the APWL coordinator APWL@tceq.texas.gov; or mail comments to:
Air Pollutant Watch List Coordinator
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Air Permits Division
MC-163 P.O. Box 13087
Austin, Texas 78711-3087
comments are as follows ;
I kindly would like to make the following comments please on the proposal by TCEQ to further enhance cancer risk in the state of Texas.
I believe that if the state of Texas and the TCEQ gets this proposal through, it will go to prove that neither one care about public health, and it’s all about the almighty dollar.
since the BP deliberate upset of benzene and who knows what else for over 40 days (because after the initial upset that first day, the rest of the 39+ were deliberate), since then my wife has developed breast cancer. how many more in this area?
IF this proposal to remove Benzene, Hydrogen Sulfide, or any other pollutant into the air in the Galveston Bay area’s of Texas City, Bayport, and or any of the Houston ship channel areas, would be detrimental to this area. there is too much pollution already.
This proposals reeks of industry greed and if the oversight there from i.e. the TCEQ does not stop this from happening, then they too should hang up their jock straps as being any type of Environmental steward, and start paying their dues directly to the chemical industry they are so in bed with.
I sincerely hope and pray that the TCEQ and this proposal is stopped dead in it’s tracks, before too many more humans are. ...
Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
P.O. Box 42 Bacliff, Texas 77518 email@example.com
Monday, March 25, 2013
TCEQ Proposes Removal of Two Pollutants from the Texas City APWL Area--Benzene and Hydrogen Sulfide
Report challenges state pollutant de-listing effort in Texas City
By Harvey Rice May 14, 2013
GALVESTON - Emissions of the pollutant benzene increased over the last three years and plumes are streaming over populated areas, according to a new report challenging an effort by state regulators to remove benzene and hydrogen sulfide from a pollutant watch list for Texas City.
The report by Air Alliance Houston and the Environmental Defense Fund identifies for the first time the source of the pollutant benzene and challenges the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's assertion that benzene pollution is decreasing. The report also says that insufficient evidence exists to remove hydrogen sulfide from the agency's watch list.
Agency air monitors are poorly placed and failing to detect a major plume of benzene that is flowing from the Marathon refinery, purchased from BP last year, over populated areas north of the plant, the report said.
An agency spokeswoman said the report was received Friday, and the agency's response will be published on its website when it takes final action on the de-listing proposal.
"The basic premise of what we are saying is that the monitoring techniques that they are using are not adequate or appropriate," said Adrian Shelley, Air Alliance Houston executive director.
Removing the pollutants from the watch list would mean the agency would pay less attention to benzene and hydrogen sulfide levels in Texas City. The agency says that monitoring stations recorded significant emission drops for the two pollutants in 2009 and 2010.
The agency's own data, however, show that the pollutants increased over the last three years, although they have decreased in comparison to the levels detected in 2000, said Elena Craft, health scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund's office in Austin.
Assisted by Ram Hashomany, an Airmeasure Solutions consultant, groups analyzed the agency data to determine the primary source of benzene pollution. Hashomany, who could not be reached for comment, is assisting attorney Tony Buzbee in 28,000 lawsuits against BP for alleged health damage from a massive 2010 pollutant release from its former Texas City refinery, now owned by Marathon. "We are talking about thousands and thousands of data points and an extraordinarily clear picture emerges," Shelley said.
The data show that monitors are in the wrong place to detect benzene emissions from the Marathon refinery, he said. "It shows pretty clearly that the largest plume is going between the two monitors, and there are houses and businesses there," Shelley said.
In an email answer to questions submitted by the Houston Chronicle last month, the agency said, "These monitors are adequately sited to detect contributions from these sources under typical meteorological conditions."
Shelley said that one of the monitors was placed at the edge of a wooded area where it is shielded from wind-borne pollutants. "Time and again they put them in an area that's easy to locate a monitor ... not where it necessarily captures the most emissions," Craft said.
The report also criticized the agency for combining the data from two types of monitors. "It's not scientifically accurate," Craft said. "If we want to have any assurance that these residents are not at increased risk we need to look in the areas that have the highest concentrations."
The agency is seeking to de-list benzene even though more than 538,000 pounds of pollutants poured out of the then-BP plant in 2010 after a malfunction. The release over 40 days included 17,371 pounds of benzene. The event resulted in 48,000 legal claims, including those handled by Buzbee, for damaged health from area residents.
EPA FACES LAWSUIT FOR CHRONIC UNDERCOUNTING OF TOXIC EMISSIONS
By Admin – May 8th, 2013 Community Groups File Suit Due to EPA’s Failure to Meet Clean Air Act Deadlines to Revise Rules to Require More Accurate Reporting of Pollution
HOUSTON, TX & WASHINGTON, D.C.///May 2, 2013///
The text of the lawsuit filing is available online at http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/news_reports/05_02_2013.php.
The federal Clean Air Act requires EPA to review and revise the formulas used to estimate dangerous volatile organic compounds at least once every three years. But EPA has failed to do so even after receiving a petition from the City of Houston in 2008 asking EPA to close loopholes that allow hundreds of thousands of tons of pollution to escape detection and reporting each year. The lawsuit is a follow-up action to the “notice of intent” letter filed by the groups in July 2012.
“Emissions that aren’t counted are ‘off the books’ as far as federal and state agencies are concerned,” said Whitney Ferrell, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, which is representing the local groups in court. “And that leaves communities downwind of oil, chemical and gas plants exposed to higher levels of butadiene, benzene, and other toxic pollutants that increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. Getting these emissions back on the radar can also help industry identify cost effective ways to recover and reuse gases that are now leaking into the air as pollution.”
Adrian Shelley, executive director, Air Alliance Houston said: "We must know what is in our air if we are going to clean it up and protect public health. We have filed this complaint as a last resort, and only because EPA has ignored repeated requests to address the problem. Seven years ago, the Agency’s own Inspector General called for overhaul of emission factors that EPA itself rated as ‘poor.’ Houston Mayor Bill White formally petitioned EPA nearly five years ago, asking the Agency to modernize the calculations that we know drastically undercount these toxic emissions. States, cities and neighborhoods trust EPA to tell the truth about the pollution from petrochemical plants; the Agency will lose that trust if it is unwilling to keep up with the science and get the data right.”
The lawsuit seeks EPA review and revision of the calculations used to measure emissions of volatile compounds from tanks, flares, and wastewater treatment systems, taking into account numerous studies over the last decade that document huge volumes of uncounted air pollution from these sources. Relatively simple actions could make a big difference – like requiring that gases sent to flares actually be hot enough to destroy the pollutants during the combustion process. A summary of several of these studies is available online at http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/news_reports/05_02_2013.php.
Anna Hrybyk, program manager, Louisiana Bucket Brigade said: "According to industry’s own reports, refinery accidents average 5 per week in Louisiana. Fines and enforcement actions strong enough to clean up and prevent these accidents are rare because the outdated emissions factors so severely underestimate actual pollution. Over 200,000 people living within two miles of a refinery in Louisiana bear the brunt of the toxic environment created by inaccurate pollution reporting and lax enforcement."
Juan Parras, executive director, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services said: “We live near hundreds of industrial facilities that release toxic and smog-causing pollutants into the air. Undercounting these volatile compounds is deadly serious for fenceline communities living in Houston’s East End to Galveston Bay that suffer from the cumulative impacts of refineries and chemical plants. EPA needs to protect public health and the environment, and there are no excuses to further delay long overdue action to revise inaccurate emission factors consistent with scientific studies.”
Hilton Kelley, executive director, Community In-Power and Development, said “For too long, the communities in Port Arthur, TX have been subjected to dangerous chemicals emitted from refineries, chemical plants, and incinerator facilities. Many of our kids suffer from asthma, bronchitis, and other air related chemical exposure illnesses. EPA should step up it's efforts to protect human health from big polluters—we depend on them for our safety.”
The lawsuit comes on the heels of EPA’s recent proposal to backpedal on a rule finalized in 2012 to control emissions of volatile compounds from oil and gas storage tanks. The original rule requires companies to install controls that will reduce toxic emissions by 95 percent from new or modified storage tanks by October 15, 2013. In response to an industry petition, EPA is now proposing to: (1) wholly exempt tanks constructed or modified in the last two years from the requirement to install controls and (2) push back compliance deadlines for all new tanks to April 15, 2014. Facilities are authorized to remove pollution controls when emissions fall below four tons per year, but the rule would allow use of outdated and inaccurate emission factors to support this claim. These changes, along with EPA’s identification of thousands of more tanks emitting high levels of volatile compounds, would allow the release of millions of tons of additional toxics, greenhouse gases, and other pollutants from storage tanks.
The text of EPA’s proposal is available online at http://www.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/actions.html.
Refineries and chemical plants emit many hazardous pollutants, including volatile compounds like benzene, butadiene, naphthalene, acrolein, and ethylene dibromide; polycyclic organic matter; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; mercury; cadmium; lead; and arsenic, among others. There is substantial scientific data demonstrating that refineries can measure their pollution with much greater accuracy than many facilities currently do. In fact, several companies have agreed to do so as a result of recent enforcement actions. See http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/bp-whiting.html and http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/marathonrefining.html.
ABOUT THE GROUPS
The Environmental Integrity Project (http://www.environmentalintegrity.org) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established in March of 2002 by former EPA enforcement attorneys to advocate for effective enforcement of environmental laws. EIP has three goals: 1) to provide objective analyses of how the failure to enforce or implement environmental laws increases pollution and affects public health; 2) to hold federal and state agencies, as well as individual corporations, accountable for failing to enforce or comply with environmental laws; and 3) to help local communities obtain the protection of environmental laws.
Air Alliance Houston (http://www.airalliancehouston.org) wants clean air so our economy, quality of life, and children can thrive. Our mission is to reduce air pollution in the Houston region to protect public health and environmental integrity through research, education, and advocacy. We are the Houston region’s leading environmental health and air quality nonprofit.
Community In-Power and Development Associates (http://www.mycida.org) is a non-profit organization that advocates for its members environmental justice, social, and economic rights. CIDA works to help protect underserved communities from big polluters like refineries and chemical plants by monitoring toxic emissions, revitalize communities, and educate citizens on the importance of voting and taking part in decisions that impact their communities.
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade (http://www.labucketbrigade.org) is a 501(c)(3) environmental health and justice organization working with communities that neighbor the state's oil refineries and chemical plants. Our mission is to support communities' use of grassroots action to create informed, sustainable neighborhoods free from industrial pollution.
Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (http://www.tejasbarrios.org) is dedicated to providing community members with the tools necessary to create sustainable, environmentally healthy communities by educating individuals on health concerns and implications arising from environmental pollution, empowering individuals with an understanding of applicable environmental laws and regulations and promoting their enforcement, and offering community building skills and resources for effective community action and greater public participation.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Leslie Maloy, for Environmental Integrity Project, at (703) 276-3256 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Adrian Shelley, for Air Alliance Houston, at (713) 528-3779 or email@example.com; Anna Hrybyk, for Louisiana Bucket Brigade, at (504) 312-1737 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Hilton Kelley, for Community In-Power and Development Association, at (409) 498-1088 or email@example.com; and Juan Parras, for Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, at (281) 513-7799 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, March 25, 2013
TCEQ Proposes Removal of Two Pollutants from the Texas City APWL Area--Benzene and Hydrogen Sulfide
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Radioactive Senate waste bill 791 Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo and Governor Rick Perry, Totalitarian rule or Authoritarian regime ?
TCEQ don’t eat catfish and speckle trout from Galveston Bay
flounder float white side up in Galveston Bay
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
GULF OF MEXICO 2013 DON'T EAT THE FISH MERCURY WARNING