US oil refineries spray cancer-causing benzene into communities, report finds | Pollution

Final yr, a dozen US oil refineries exceeded the federal restrict of their common benzene emissions.

Of the 12 refineries sprawling above the utmost for benzene, 5 had been in Texas, 4 in Louisiana, and every in Pennsylvania, Indiana and the U.S. Virgin Islands, a brand new evaluation by the Environmental Integrity Challenge revealed on Thursday.

Benzene is a identified carcinogen that’s extremely poisonous and risky when uncovered to air. Most extra emissions come from leaks from valves, tanks, pumps and different automobiles which can be troublesome to detect.

The Environmental Safety Company estimates that 6.1 million folks in the USA reside inside three miles of a refinery, and low-income folks and other people of shade are represented at almost twice the speed of the final inhabitants.

Of the 129 working oil refineries in 2021, 118 reported recording benzene concentrations at or close to the sector, in any other case referred to as the fence line.

About half of those refineries launched benzene ranges above 3 micrograms per cubic metre, which the Environmental Integrity Challenge has recognized as a possible long-term well being menace.

The EPA requires services to take motion in the event that they exceed a mean of 9 micrograms per cubic meter or if their “motion degree” is above benzene emissions.

“If [facilities] “They can not get their benzene beneath the motion degree yearly, we actually have to get sanction from the EPA,” Eric Schaeffer, government director of the Environmental Integrity Challenge, mentioned at a press convention. “It’s important to begin paying penalties when your fence line ranges proceed,” he added.

A bar chart exhibiting a dozen refineries that exceeded the EPA restrict for benzene emissions final yr, whereas Marathon Petroleum’s Galveston Bay refinery in Texas Metropolis had the very best common web benzene ranges in 2021.

In line with the EPA, lifetime publicity to benzene at ranges as little as 0.13 micrograms per cubic meter might end in an extra danger of most cancers for each million uncovered folks. The upper the benzene degree, the upper the well being danger.

Marathon Petroleum’s Galveston Bay refinery in Texas Metropolis had the very best common web benzene ranges in 2021, based on an evaluation of self-reported information. About 37,000 folks reside inside a three-mile radius of the refinery. Of those, 62% are non-white and 47% are low-income.

“This evaluation offers an vital perception into why the Houston space is an industrial most cancers hotspot,” Leticia Gutierrez of the Air Alliance Houston advocacy group mentioned on the press convention.

“Folks residing close to these services are extra [exposure] “Greater than some other a part of the state in opposition to a lifetime danger of most cancers, however the regulatory our bodies chargeable for defending us proceed to approve permits for these services.”

The Environmental Integrity Challenge notes that its evaluation doesn’t measure benzene concentrations in neighborhoods adjoining to refineries and doesn’t replicate precise benzene ranges in communities.

Marathon Petroleum and the EPA didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

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