Plant Struck By Harvey Leaked ‘Significantly’ More Chemicals Than Originally Thought


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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter

A Houston, Texas, chemical plant damaged by Hurricane Harvey released much more hazardous gas than the seven pounds originally reported, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The plant, owned by Valero Energy Partners, leaked carcinogens after a light crude storage tank was damaged on Aug. 27. After making an initial report of the spill to the Texas Environmental Electronic Reporting System, the energy company informed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it “significantly underestimated” the amount of chemicals leaked from the damaged tank.

After residents reported suspicious odors after Harvey, Houston’s health department took air quality readings around the plant Sept. 2. The reading measured high levels of benzene at 325 parts per billion, however, actual exposure to the chemical is more difficult to calculate, the health department’s chief scientist Loren Raun told WSJ.

“The concentrations were concerning,” Raun said. “We really want to make sure the community is protected from benzene at levels like that.”

The original report on the spill to stated the leak happened due to “heavy rainfall complications,” and Valero’s preliminary air quality tests measured “no detectable levels of emissions in the community,” Fox Business reports.

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