While BP touts the mild success of its most recent attempt to contain the massive gusher spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, they would probably rather people don’t notice the other spill they recently caused, this one of deadly benzene from a refinery in Texas City, TX. The refinery released more than 400 pounds a day of the chemical over a 40-day period from early April to mid May of this year, BP quietly informed the state environmental regulator yesterday. Over that period, the refinery released 500,000 pounds of benzene and other toxic chemicals into the air, the Galveston Daily News reports:
Refinery spokesman Michael Marr said in its follow up reporting with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, BP estimated 36,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides and 17,000 pounds of benzene were released in the 40 days. State law requires 10 pounds or more of benzene and 200 pounds or more of nitrogen oxide during a 24-hour period must be reported through the commission’s air emissions database.
The bulk of the emissions during that time included an estimated 189,000 pounds of carbon monoxide and 61,000 pounds of propane, according to the company’s report to the TCEQ.
“Benzene is a carcinogen naturally found in oil,” and carbon monoxide is a chemical that kills hundreds and sickens thousands of people every year. The plant spokesperson said the amounts released were not large enough to be harmful to neighboring communities. An explosion at the same refinery in 2005 killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company $21 million for safety failures that led to that explosion, while the Department of Justice fined the company another $50 million.