Houston Matters

Largely Invisible Tank Cleaning Industry Awash in Risk

Rail cars, tanks and barges are routinely used to ship chemicals. These chemicals are key to the manufacture of all manner of everyday materials, from plastics to paint. Eventually, these cars, tankers and barges have to be cleaned, a procedure that is largely unregulated and raises health and safety concerns. As the Houston Chronicle reported […]

Steam pours from a tank trailer at a wash site in Alabama. A sign indicates the truck held styrene monomer, a plastics component. (Mayra Beltran, Houston Chronicle)

Rail cars, tanks and barges are routinely used to ship chemicals. These chemicals are key to the manufacture of all manner of everyday materials, from plastics to paint. Eventually, these cars, tankers and barges have to be cleaned, a procedure that is largely unregulated and raises health and safety concerns. As the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday, a former OSHA official calls it “extremely hazardous work.”

On this edition of Houston Matters, we learn more about the challenges and risks inherent in cleaning rail cars, tanker trucks, and inland barges, as we talk with the Houston Chronicle’s Ingrid Lobet, who’s investigated various health and safety concerns.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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