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EPA Chief in Houston: Some Neighborhoods ‘Overburdened’ With Pollution

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is promising to do more to reduce pollution in Houston neighborhoods that lie near refineries and chemical plants.


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photo of Gina McCarthy
Gina McCarthy is the top administrator of the U.S. EPA


Thomas Corrales listens at meeting with EPA’s Gina McCarthy

In a community center next door to a refinery in the east Houston neighborhood called Manchester, EPA Director Gina McCarthy talked with a couple dozen residents.

“So it’s not up to EPA to dictate where people live, it’s up to EPA to deliver to everybody the clean air, clean water,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy called neighborhoods like Manchester “overburdened” by the effects of pollution with so much industry so close by. She promised action, pointing out that just this week the EPA announced new scrutiny of plants that use giant flares to burn off excess chemicals.

Valero refinery
The Valero refinery in Houston’s Manchester neighborhood is undergoing expansion

But one resident, Thomas Corrales, who said he’d lived in Manchester for 62 years, interrupted McCarthy to point out that no one from the Valero refinery next door was at the meeting.

“I don’t see anybody from Valero here. They are the main ones that should be here,” Corrales said from his seat across the room from McCarthy.

McCarthy replied: “To be very honest with you I can talk to Valero anytime I want. And I want to talk to them after I hear from you. “

A Valero spokesperson told News 88.7 that it actually has a panel made up of nearby residents who meet regularly with plant officials.

McCarthy was in town to also speak to an energy industry convention.


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