Energy & Environment

Residents Want State To Take Close Look At Pasadena Refinery Permit

At a public hearing held in Pasadena, residents told state officials why they’re concerned about an oil refinery that needs a new pollution permit.

 

Araceli Ochoa listens to interpreter translating the hearing into Spanish
Araceli Ochoa listens to interpreter translating the hearing into Spanish

They came from neighborhoods around the Houston Ship Channel which is lined with chemical plants and oil refineries. Araceli Ochoa was one of a couple dozen residents who took part in a hearing at a hotel in Pasadena. Through an interpreter, she said air pollution from the plants causes asthma and disease.

Pasadena Refining System Inc. is owned by Brazil's national oil company, Petrobras
Pasadena Refining System Inc. is owned by Brazil’s national oil company, Petrobras

The hearing was held by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality which wanted to know what the public thought about one particular plant, Pasadena Refining System owned by Petrobras, the national oil company of Brazil (and also involved in a political scandal in Brazil as detailed in a previous post).

The refinery needs a new pollution permit which the state must approve. Leticia Ablaza told us she and her two school aged kids live six miles from the plant.

Leticia Ablaza attended the TCEQ  hearing with her daughter
Leticia Ablaza attended the TCEQ hearing with her daughter

“There’s always been buzz around it, there’s always been talk about how they’re just perpetually violating so it’s a concern,” said Ablaza.

Pasadena Refining System or PRSI does have a history of pollution citations and is currently facing an enforcement action according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. But the plant’s environmental manager, Mark Berlinger, said at the hearing that improvements have been made.

“In the last few years PRSI has improved safety and environmental results. PRSI has reduced flaring by over 80 percent since 2011,” said Berlinger.

State officials have already given preliminary approval to the permit which will still need final approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Dave Fehling

Dave Fehling

Director of News and Public Affairs

As Director of News and Public Affairs, Dave Fehling manages the radio news operation at Houston's NPR station. Previously, he was a reporter at the station, covering the oil & gas industry and its impact on the environment. He won top state honors for in-depth and investigative reporting as well...

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