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After two barges struck an oil tanker, at least nine thousand barrels of gasoline “blending stock” called Reformate spilled into the Houston ship channel, causing it to be closed, and creating a noxious odor in the neighborhoods nearby the spill. Texas state officials are collecting air monitoring samples and say they will notify the public if any of the readings are at dangerous levels.
Reformate is a gas product that is in an intermediate stage in the production of gasoline — and although it is colorless, it is flammable and toxic to marine life and humans.
Why This Matters:Houston really seems to have a chemical safety problem. Two chemical explosions on land and two big oil spills in the ship channel in the last two months ought to spark some sort of safety review in the area. And the warnings each time seem insufficient. For example, a local toxicologist tweeted after this latest spill that reformate should not be breathed in or touched — it is a severe respiration hazard and it’s caustic to the skin. The local warmings did not seem to involve restricting fishing or coming into contact with the channel waters. This double whammy will, according to local officials, have “short and long term impacts,” because they pose risks to marine life. Seems like an understatement. Not to mention that the entire region was under flood watch over the weekend after days of torrential rains flooded neighborhoods and even closed schools on Friday. The National Weather Service (NWS) had issued an ongoing flash flood watch for the area stretching from Houston, Texas, to the coastal city of Galveston, Texas.
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer For decades, uranium mining has contaminated the Navajo Nation, causing higher cancer rates and water pollution. Even though the health risks and environmental harms of uranium mining are well-established, new operations continue to move forward. One local group, the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) hasn’t found a […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he would extend the drought emergency statewide and issued an executive order to have residents conserve water. As part of this effort, eight new counties were added to the state of emergency, and authorized the State Water Resources Control Board was authorized to […]
By Elizabeth Love, ODP Contributing Writer Authorities in the Canadian Arctic territory Nunavut, announced a state of emergency this week due to a possible contamination event affecting the City of Iqaluit’s water supply. Tests were performed after residents reported the smell of gasoline coming from their tap water, but they came back clean. However, […]
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