Independent Tests Found Benzene After Harvey 6x Higher Than Guidelines

"After an oil tank in Houston’s Manchester neighborhood caved in, private monitors found levels that far exceeded California’s health guidelines".

"As a longtime resident of Manchester, Guadalupe Hernandez is used to the chemical smells that waft through his southeast Houston, Texas neighborhood, a low-income, predominantly Hispanic community near a Valero Energy refinery. But when Hurricane Harvey blew in the weekend of Aug. 26, the stench became noticeably stronger for about five hours, a scent like “glue or boiled eggs,” he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency has assured the public they looked into complaints in the area a week after the storm hit, and spent several days taking air pollution measurements with a mobile laboratory. The agency didn’t release any specifics, but said concentrations of several toxic chemicals, including the carcinogen benzene, met Texas health guidelines.

Now, environmental advocacy groups have shared their own, detailed data with ProPublica and the Texas Tribune, based on air sampling from the same Manchester streets over six days. It shows a more nuanced picture than the one given by the EPA: in numerous locations, benzene levels, though under the Texas threshold of 180 parts per billion, far exceeded California’s guidelines, which is 23 times more stringent and is well-respected by health advocates nationwide."

Lisa Song and Al Shaw report for ProPublica, and Kiah Collier for The Texas Tribune, Septmber 14, 2017.


"EPA Won't Release Benzene Levels Collected Post-Harvey; Private Tests Show Elevated Levels" (Texas Tribune)

"Valero 'Significantly Underestimated' Benzene Leak At Houston Refinery" (Houston Chronicle)

"Air Monitors Detect Cancer-Causing Compound As Environmental Concerns Grow In East Harris County" (Houston Chronicle)

Source: ProPublica/Texas Tribune, 09/15/2017