There Are 'No Real Consequences' for Toxic Emissions Events

8/15/2022 5:00:00 PM

In some cases, these “chemical releases” aren’t illegal. In others, state regulators give polluters the benefit of the doubt.

Professor of environmental economics Nikos_ziro estimates there are 1000s of unplanned, unpermitted releases of toxic chemicals from Texas plants every year. Most go unpunished. Published in partnership with pubhealthwatch: ClimateEmergency

In some cases, these “chemical releases” aren’t illegal. In others, state regulators give polluters the benefit of the doubt.

Republish Close republish modal This piece is being published in collaboration with Public Health Watch.Grace Segran After my diagnosis, I didn't know what to tell my granddaughter, Ella.Thousands of people streamed into downtown Chula Vista on Saturday for the 25 th annual Lemon Festival.Fortnite is apparently teasing some kind of Eminem event, though fans aren't sure exactly what that will look like.

On July 26, black clouds rose from flares at a Chevron Phillips chemical plant in Baytown, Texas, after a power outage hit the plant and the surrounding area.The company estimated in a preliminary report to the state that it released thousands of pounds of chemicals during the hours-long incident, including 17,500 pounds of carbon monoxide and 980 pounds and 280 pounds, respectively, of the carcinogens benzene and 1,3-butadiene.When she came over for a visit after my first chemo treatment, I told her I needed to lie down for a while.It was one of 108 unplanned chemical releases, known as emissions events, the facility has reported since September 2015, records show.While a post-war housing boom transformed the city by the late 1950s, the community still celebrates its agricultural roots.But only 11 of those leaks have been deemed illegal and resulted in penalties from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ.I wanted to tell her the truth.Put another way, about 90 percent of the plant’s accidental releases have gone unpunished.Epic Games has even held concerts within the game for major artists like Ariana Grande and Travis Scott.

Chevron Phillips, it seems, has gotten off easy.But what would I say? I also worried about the after part.My family has lemon trees.But it’s not that simple.Releases like Chevron Phillips’ may be smelly, unsightly and even terrifying, but not all exceed permitted limits and are illegal.It sent me to bed for months.It’s hard to know for sure because TCEQ data can be difficult to navigate.13, 2022.And in Texas, even polluters that break the rules often get the benefit of the doubt.Eating had always been one of my greatest pleasures.Given the game has a history of hosting concerts for huge artists, it's entirely possible Eminem is planning to do a big musical event in the game soon, but it really remains to be seen.

The TCEQ’s most recent enforcement report shows that Texas had 3,032 emissions events that unleashed a collective 39.4 million pounds of chemicals in fiscal year 2021, which ran from September 2020 through August 2021.Everything I put in my mouth tasted metallic.Children played in bounce houses and posed in front of signs emblazoned with the yellow citrus fruit.TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker concluded that only 23 of those releases were “excessive” and worthy of enforcement.(Fiscal year 2021 saw a relatively low number of events due to the pandemic-related economic slowdown; the year before there were 4,257.Routine things — getting dressed, taking a shower, putting on my shoes — became punishing activities.) The TCEQ determines if an event is excessive based on the cause, the frequency of unplanned releases at a facility, the potential impacts on public health and other factors.“We have seen some changeover on the block with new businesses and a new generation from Chula Vista,” he said, calling out a handful of establishments including Mmm.Rihanna) - Walk on Water (ft.

On average, 3,605 emissions events each year exceed permitted limits, and yet the TCEQ issued only 462 penalties for illegal releases from September 2015 to June 2022.I had lost purpose and interest in life.Nikos Zirogiannis, a professor of environmental economics at Indiana University, has studied and written about emissions events in Texas for years.In a paper last year, he estimated that unpermitted releases cause an average of 35 deaths per year among elderly Texans.Twelve years ago, he was waiting to be discharged from the hospital after open heart surgery when he collapsed and died.Cakes, Culichi Town and 3 Punk Ales.These deaths cost the state more than $300 million per year, he calculated.Zirogiannis has found that, on average, 3,605 emissions events each year exceed permitted limits and are illegal.My death is a more drawn out affair.As of right now, Epic appears to be teasing some kind of Dragon Ball event for Fortnite, so who knows how many big events are coming to the game, but it does look promising.

And yet the TCEQ issued only 462 penalties for illegal releases from September 2015 to June 2022, according to a Public Health Watch analysis of agency enforcement records.“I’ve never seen it this good,” she said.That means only a small fraction of the events Zirogiannis believes to be illegal result in fines..It’s hard to come up with a precise number because of the lag time – sometimes years – associated with penalties.Another complicating factor: The so-called affirmative defense, put in place by the TCEQ in 2003.But hospice has helped redeem the years that the locusts had eaten.” Daniel Lopez drove from Allied Gardens for the event with his wife and two young boys, who were enjoying a lemon-themed swing.The rule allows the agency to waive penalties for emissions events that are “unplanned, unavoidable and properly reported,” the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission reported in May, and is supposed to be “a narrowly defined and tailored tool that incentivizes voluntary, proactive compliance.

” In fact, it’s been overused: During the last five years, the commission found, TCEQ investigators decided the defense was valid for more than 85 percent of unauthorized emissions events.I didn't have a picture of what hospice was, except that it's where you go when you are about to die.A spokesperson for the TCEQ said the affirmative defense “only applies to a narrow subset of events” and is used by the agency to “more efficiently direct its investigation and enforcement resources.” Brenda Mora, a Chula Vista native, works on a colorful chalk drawing depicting a lemon slice combined with elements of the city’s logo during the the Chula Vista Lemon Festival on Aug.” “The agency is taking steps to promote consistency in the review of emissions events, including updating the emissions event investigator guidance, conducting outreach directly to companies through industry groups and events, and implementing more standard processes,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.I said yes.Harris County, which includes part of Baytown, had 225 emissions events in 2018.As of June 2022, the TCEQ had issued fines for only 27 — or 12 percent — of those events.I was taken off all cancer drugs and cared for at home by the hospice medical team.Lewis) There was also a large collection of educational booths.

Last year, the county had 204 unplanned releases; it’s too soon to know how many will result in penalties.LaToya Washington, who lives in Baytown and teaches environmental science in nearby Galena Park, said the walls of her home sometimes shake from accidents at facilities five miles away.That was good because it made it much easier to talk about dying and death.“You kind of have this panic, like, ‘Oh, God, what’s what’s going on? Is it serious?’” she said.“Citrus is one of the most popular backyard fruit trees in California,” he explained.“Then you’re like, ‘OK, well, I hope there’s not going to be a shelter-in-place,’ or, ‘Do I need to turn my AC off?’” A Chevron Phillips spokesperson said the company’s release in July caused no injuries, and air monitoring by Harris County Pollution Control Services showed the surrounding community was not affected.Finally, we can all be honest with each other and talk about our feelings for one another as we plan for the end of my life and beyond.“The safety of our personnel and neighboring communities is a core value of our company, and we remain committed to responsible environmental management,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

Not all of the emissions events in the TCEQ’s database are illegal.I woke up one morning wanting an egg salad on sourdough bread and an iced oat milk latte for breakfast.She said the pandemic has been hard on her business as many such festivals have been on hold for the last two years.Facilities must report chemical leaks to the TCEQ within 24 hours of an incident, but the final report, due two weeks later, may show the plant never discharged more than its air permit allows.It’s a recipe for confusion: To determine if a release may merit a fine, one first has to look up the amount of a particular chemical a plant is legally allowed to release on an hourly basis.My taste for lemonade and tahini shortbread at Sofra was back to.If any of these limits was exceeded during the event, there was a violation.” The event stretched from 11 a.The sheer quantity of events at a plant also may not be meaningful.It's a good day if I can make it a quarter mile.

“The fact that some facility has a large number of events doesn’t necessarily mean those are events of substantial magnitude,” Zirogiannis said Zirogiannis said the TCEQ has the most comprehensive air-pollution data of any state, but it’s not easy to use or understand.”Not everybody has the time to go into the air emissions events website of the TCEQ and look what happened in a given day,” he said.Grace Segran with her daughter Elizabeth and her two children, Lily and Ella.The city held a smaller version of the festival last year, according to organizers.Zirogiannis said he worries that TCEQ’s penalties aren’t stiff enough to deter polluters.Public Health Watch found that the median TCEQ fine for an air-pollution violation between September 2015 and June 2022 was $7,500.In her postpartum fog, Bessie got involved with the home hospice care team.After discounts for complying with the terms of the enforcement agreement, the median amount companies actually paid was $6,000.

“The question I always ask myself is, ‘Is the number big enough to make a dent?’ It is not clear to me that this is the case,” Zirogiannis said.Then we would rest in bed after lunch, with baby Lily, latch firmly to her breast lying between us.He pointed to a recent study that helps put TCEQ enforcement policies in context.In a 2020 paper, two researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, noted that companies in the Houston area sometimes buy “offset credits” to increase emissions.We also cooked together, whenever I had the energy.Such credits can be sold by lower-emitting facilities to new or expanding plants.The researchers found that credits for nitrogen oxides or volatile organic compounds, including benzene and 1,3-butadiene, fluctuated between $5,000 and $25,000 per ton.Every so often Bessie would ask me to do something like give her a list of people I want her to contact when I die, or the songs and order of service at my funeral.

“If the median penalty is below that, that might suggest that polluters might have a preference for paying the [fine] rather than purchasing offset credits,” Zirogiannis said.In short, it can be cheaper for a company to pollute illegally than to increase emissions legally.I'm still getting used to the idea of dying.“If there are no consequences, no real consequences, then … it doesn’t doesn’t hurt them to keep doing it, to keep releasing,” Washington said.Copy HTML Republish this article for free All of the Texas Observer ’s articles are available for free syndication for news sources under the following conditions: Articles must link back to the original article and contain the following attribution at the top of the story: This article was originally published by the Texas Observer.The pace of life, ambitions and selfish desires had drawn us apart.

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