Major toxic waste Sites in Texas When thinking about the most polluted states in our country, California and New York instantly pop into our mind. What most people don’t know, however, is that Texas now ranks number one in most categories of pollution. Whether it be increased emissions from refineries in Beaumont, large pits filled with contamination at Kelley Air Force Base, or polluted water at Lake Sam Rayburn, Texas has more than its fair share of toxic waste. Exxon/Mobil, one of the nation’s leading oil producers, has its main refinery located in Beaumont, Texas. Each year, the residents of Beaumont/Port Arthur have to contend with the 39, 000 pounds of pollution spewed each year by the Exxon refinery.
Exxon’s emissions are 385% above the state refinery average. In 1999, the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Committee (TNRCC) allowed the plant to increase their emissions, without allowing the public to have a say in the matter. Interestingly, 95% of the people living near the plant are of African American descent and are in the poverty range. Some believe that this, along with the lack of education in the area, allows Exxon to get away with such high emissions. Residents in nearby neighborhoods have been complaining of headaches, nausea, eye, and throat irritation for years. Since 1997, Mobil has repeatedly violated health standards in its emissions of two key air pollutants: sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, These “rotten egg” smells are so strong, one can smell it through a car driving past the refinery.
Introduction According to Lewicki, Saunders & Minton (2003), adopting an unethical approach to negotiation in business can have serious consequences. A recent explosion at the British Petroleum (BP) Texas refinery on 24 March, 2005 reiterated this and demonstrated the effect of an unethical approach to negotiation with the death of 15 contract workers. Ethical behaviour refers to the standards ...
After numerous complaints and one record of a refinery worker becoming unconscious because of the fumes, the EPA awarded Exxon with a $100, 000 environmental justice grant in October of 1998. Hopefully, Exxon has put the money to good use and cleaned up their emissions. Kelly Air Force Base (KAFB) in San Antonio has been one of the Air Force’s major aircraft maintenance facilities since the 1950 s. Located on 4000 acres and surrounded by residential neighborhoods, KAFB warehouses and maintains aircraft, jet engines, and nuclear materials for worldwide distribution. Activities at the base can generate as much as 282, 000 tons of hazardous waste per year, all in close range to the neighboring communities. One day, a woman living near the base noticed a man dumping waste into an open pit into a ground.
Over the years, her family began suffering from mysterious illnesses, with bow legs, missing ribs, and missing kidneys in her newborn grandchildren. Scientists at KAFB released information in 1983 indicating that toxic waste had been dumped into an uncovered pit from 1960 to 1973. The waste contained carcinogens such as benzene, chlorobenzene, and trichlorethylene and created contaminated groundwater that still runs beneath nearby residential areas. This contaminated groundwater extends throughout a shallow aquifer that runs beneath more than 20, 000 homes near the base. The aquifer was once a major source of drinking water for neighborhoods near the base, but now people use it mainly to water their lawns and gardens. Now there is growing concern that contaminants from KAFB have migrated deeper into the Edwards Aquifer, the drinking water source for the City of San Antonio.
By 1994, the US EPA had assigned ‘highest priority’ to KAFB for environmental cleanup (9) In October 1999, the Texas chapter of the Sierra Club, filed a petition with the EPA and Governor George Bush to designate Kelly Air Force Base as a Federal Superfund site. Superfund status allows residents of affected areas to apply for federal grant money to allow them to participate in the government’s clean-up decisions. While the case is pending, local residents continue to live each day in their contaminated neighborhoods, and new families continue to move in, lured by the prospect of affordable housing but unaware of the risks. Interestingly, Kelly Air Force Base is located near a predominantly Hispanic community, proving once again racial injustice. Lake Sam Rayburn, once known for excellent swimming, water-skiing, and fishing, the lake is now suffering drastically due to unchecked pollution from a paper mill.
Fleur a story written by Louise Enrich is a tale about a young Chippewa Indian woman who is feared by all the people that live on her reservation, Argus. They believed that she has been cursed by the water monster of Lake Turcot who seeks her life for his own. Her general lifestyle is an awe to them because she lives outside of traditional ways. She stirs things up with her uncanny luck and the ...
In recent years, concerns have arisen over threats to water quality and the health of fish in the lake by increasing development at a nearby paper mill which discharges pollutants into the watershed. The Donohue Industries paper mill facility in Angelina County flushes 20 million gallons per day of wastewater into Paper Mill Creek, which flows into the lake. Wastewater from Donohue makes up 73% of the total discharge into Lake Sam Rayburn. High levels of mercury in the fish, low dissolved oxygen levels, and dissolved aluminum concentrations all pointed towards water contamination when tested by the TNRCC. After witnessing almost 2, 000 dead bass in the area, residents knew something was wrong. After researching the paper mill, the TNRCC found that dioxins were being produced.
Dioxins are highly toxic and carcinogenic by-products of paper mills that use chlorine bleaching agents. Despite this finding, the TNRCC turned a blind eye and refused to believe anything was happening. Underweight fish and dying animals were still being found on the lake bed. As of July 2001, nothing has been done to change the water standards for the Donahue paper mill. This is a sad thing, not only for the residents that live on the lake, but also for the thousands of fish and wildlife that are killed each year. All three of these examples prove that pollution is happening in Texas and that it is important for residents to get involved if they want a change to happen.
Sometimes, even governmental agencies cannot stop pollution. We must take care of our natural resources, especially land and water, because they are non-renewable. We want our state to be clean for our grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. This will not happen unless residents of these toxic waste sites take action and let their voices be heard. Besides, whatever happened to the slogan, “Don’t Mess With Texas?” References: 1).
There once lived a chief's daughter who had many friends. All the young men in the village wanted to have her for their wife, and were all wanted to fill her bucket when she went to the stream for water. There was a young man in the village who wasa good hunter; but he was poor and from a mean family. He loved the chick and when she went for water, he threw his towel over her head while he ...
Texas Toxic Tour, web).
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, ‘1999 Report of Sam Rayburn Task Force,’ March 2000, web 3).
Southwest Public Workers’ Union, ‘North Kelly Gardens Community Health Survey near Kelly AFB, Texas,’ Revised Edition, 10/23/97, p. 3.