The EPA said Valero is pre­par­ing a new re­port that will show a ‘sub­stan­tial in­crease’ in emis­sions.

Houston Chronicle - - BUSINESS - jor­dan.blum@chron.com twit­ter.com/jd­blum23

De­fense Fund pre­vi­ously de­tected a plume of ben­zene near homes and busi­nesses that was nearly twice the state lim­its for short-term ex­po­sure.

Ben­zene is a car­cino­genic com­po­nent of crude oil and gaso­line. Breathing it can cause dizzi­ness, headaches and even un­con­scious­ness.

The ben­zene re­lease by the Valero re­fin­ery was the strong­est con­cen­tra­tion of toxic com­pounds de­tected by in­de­pen­dent air mon­i­tor­ing through­out the Hous­ton area in the af­ter­math of Har­vey, although there were el­e­vated lev­els also de­tected in cities like Bay­town and Port Arthur. The 324 parts per bil­lion is nearly dou­ble the state’s al­low­able amount of 180 parts per bil­lion for short-term ex­po­sure.

“Based upon the vol­ume of

ma­te­rial in the tank at the time of the roof fail­ure, EPA es­ti­mates that the emis­sions from the tank were high­est im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the roof fail­ure and have di­min­ished over time due to ef­forts by the com­pany to re­move tank con­tents, ” the EPA said.

Valero also spread foam on the chem­i­cals to min­i­mize emis­sions.

“Mod­er­ate” emis­sions re­leases were still be­ing de­tected by the EPA as re­cently as Sept. 8 at the 190foot wide stor­age tank.

Valero told the EPA it was re­mov­ing resid­ual crude oil from the tank us­ing pumps and eval­u­at­ing safe meth­ods to re­move the tank’s crum­pled roof.

Last week, Valero spokes­woman Lil­lian Rio­jas cred­ited the Valero crew mem­bers with quickly con­tain­ing the oil that leaked from the roof drain at the re­fin­ery.

She noted the U.S. Coast Guard in­spected the cleanup, and, she said, Valero is work­ing with the state and the EPA “on mon­i­tor­ing for any po­ten­tial emis­sions from the oil.”

Pat Sul­li­van / As­so­ci­ated Press file

The Valero re­fin­ery, seen in 2014, is in the Manch­ester neigh­bor­hood of east Hous­ton.

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