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Environmentalists Alarmed At Hydrocarbon Releases During Harvey

Many refineries were shut down, and air monitors had to be removed and protected during the storm. In a post-mortem, environmentalists are critical of state and federal agencies for not planning ahead.


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The state shut down 50 air quality monitors to protect the sensitive devices from Harvey’s fury, but the Houston Health Department says those are up and running again.

Elena Kraft with the Environmental Defense Fund is critical of what she calls a lack of planning by state and federal agencies.

“We recognize that the state removed some of the monitors to protect them from damage from the storm, but the result of that obviously is, you know, not having information available to advise the public how they might protect themselves from emission events.”

The TCEQ says as floodwaters receded, they were out in the field with portable monitors, and were conducting aerial surveys for air pollution.

Kraft says Environmental Defense Fund’s own mobile monitoring detected high levels of benzene in some neighborhoods.

“It suggests that the current stationary network system is probably not adequate to capture some of these larger emissions immediately post-disaster.”

But Kraft says it took too long for environmental agencies to deploy mobile units. The TCEQ declined our request for an interview.

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