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Health Concerns along Refinery Row

StateImpact Texas is a collaboration of local public radio stations KUT Austin, KUHF Houston and NPR. Reporters travel the state to learn about issues from the people affected by them. This week highlights industrial air pollution.



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Tammy Foster is a lifetime resident of Refinery Row in Corpus Christi, Texas. Years of living surrounded refineries and smoke stacks have made many of the families there sick, she said, and responses to health surveys circulated throughout the community reinforce those suspicions. Terrence Henry of the StateImpact Texas project spoke with Foster about what she thinks should be done to fix this problem.

Industrial pollution has affected and continues to affect locals in serious ways, Foster said. She and many other residents in the area are calling for regulatory and compensatory action to be taken.

Tammy Foster:

“We’re hoping they’ll do what they did in Blackwell, Oklahoma, and force a buyout of the whole area. But that’s hope. It doesn’t mean they’re going to do anything. They could tell us we’re crazy and ignore us. The TCEQ doesn’t respond unless they’re forced to. And then as one of their employees put it, ‘They’re nothing more than a janitorial service. Industry is here to pollute and they’re here to clean.’”

There are 16 port industries and they’re all guilty of polluting, she said. $100 million, on the high end, is what Foster roughly estimated it would cost to buy out the 1,000 area homes in question.

Read more about the hazardous living conditions on Refinery Row at StateImpact Texas.