Hurricane Harvey: Pollution Disaster in the Wake of the Storm

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in 2011 in Vermont.  Photolangelle.org

The worst of the weather may be over, but the real environmental tragedy could just be beginning. As journalist, Emily Atkins reports, Hurricane Harvery had the potential to affect “roughly one third of the country’s known oil and natural gas reserves.” And “roughly 25 percent of the United States’s petroleum refining, more than 44 percent of its ethylene production, 40 percent of its specialty chemical feed stock and more than half of its jet fuel.”

If these toxic chemicals were to get into a water system already overwhelming the local wastewater treatment systems, they have the potential to seep into residents’ homes and the surrounding soil, and permanently alter the local ecosystems and have livelong effects on locals’ health. Not to mention the economic damages that would go along with that.

It is being reported that about a quarter of oil production and twenty six percent of natural gas production was initially shut down due to the hurricane. [1] Those operations are currently undergoing damage assesments before statements can be made about any malfunctions and/or pollution into the area. [2] The  Colonial Pipeline, which transports more than 100 million gallons of gasoline, heating oil and aviation fuel each day to as far as the New York harbor, was not affected in this hurricane as it has been in the past. [1] But, with climate change causing more extreme weather every season, we can certainly expect to see more serious environmental disaters causing far reaching and long term ecological and health effects.

To read to entire Article by Emily Atkin in New Republic, click here.

[1] Harvey’s threat to Texas oil. (2017, August 27). Retrieved August 28, 2017, from http://whnt.com/2017/08/27/harveys-threat-to-texas-oil/

[2] Seba;, E. (2017, August 26). South Texas oil refiners begin assessing damage after Harvey. Retrieved August 28, 2017, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-storm-harvey-refineries-idUSKCN1B60QA

 

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