Friday, July 19, 2019

Toxic Waste Sites in Texas Essay -- essays research papers

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 â€Å"rotten egg† smells are so strong, one can smell it through a car driving past the refinery. 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 1950s. 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 in... ...d. 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, â€Å"Don’t Mess With Texas?† References: 1). Texas Toxic Tour, 2). Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, "1999 Report of Sam Rayburn Task Force," March 2000, 3). Southwest Public Workers' Union, "North Kelly Gardens Community Health Survey near Kelly AFB, Texas," Revised Edition, 10/23/97, p. 3.

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