Refineries, chemical plants release over 4 millions pounds of pollution as a result of Hurricane Laura

Refineries and chemical plants along the Gulf Coast are shutting down ahead of Hurricane Laura’s landfall. These shutdown events, however, often are significant pollution events. 

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Catherine Fraser
Clean Air Associate

Author: Catherine Fraser

Clean Air Associate

(612) 963-0228

Started on staff: 2019
B.A. with honors, Colby College

Catherine works on Environment Texas' Clean Air Project, working to reduce illegal air pollution from industrial facilities across the state. Catherine lives in Austin, where she enjoys playing soccer, reading, and exploring Austin's live music and food scene.

Refineries and chemical plants along the Gulf Coast are shutting down ahead of Hurricane Laura’s landfall. These shutdown events, however, often are significant pollution events. Together, Texas facilities have announced plans to release over 4 million pounds of air pollution ahead of Laura, but we have yet to see how much pollution is released when the storm hits. In 2017, Houston-area facilities reported releasing over 8 million pounds of air pollution during Hurricane Harvey.

In their shutdown reports to TCEQ, Beaumont Gas to Gasoline Plant and Motiva Chemicals reported plans to release over 3 million pounds of carbon dioxide and over 130,000 pounds of pollution, respectively.

Enterprise East and Enterprise Mont Belvieu Complex both submitted pre-emptive reports, stating “Enterprise submitted a preemptive STEERS report in anticipation of possible shutdowns of some processing units due to Hurricane Laura. At this time Enterprise has no plans of shutting down any of these units and is closing this report.”

Motiva’s facility in Port Arthur plans to start up August 27, following Hurricane Laura’s landfall, reporting to TCEQ plans to release nearly 49,000 pounds of pollution as they come online.

Under Texas law, planned maintenance, startup, and shutdown (MSS) activities that release unauthorized pollution constitute air pollution violations, which companies must report to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Equipment breakdowns, process malfunctions or operator error or may occur during the startup and shutdown of equipment can cause these unauthorized pollution releases.

Here’s a list of the facilities in Brazoria, Chambers, Harris, and Jefferson Counties that have reported to TCEQ’s STEERS database that have reported shutdown events and subsequent emissions events before and after Hurricane Laura’s landfall:

To view these reports, visit https://www2.tceq.texas.gov/oce/eer/ and search by incident number.

Catherine Fraser
Clean Air Associate

Author: Catherine Fraser

Clean Air Associate

(612) 963-0228

Started on staff: 2019
B.A. with honors, Colby College

Catherine works on Environment Texas' Clean Air Project, working to reduce illegal air pollution from industrial facilities across the state. Catherine lives in Austin, where she enjoys playing soccer, reading, and exploring Austin's live music and food scene.