This new biweekly newsletter feature will highlight Houston-area emission events reported in the last two weeks. More information about emission events and steps you can take to report polluters can be found at Neighborhood Witness. Neighborhood Witness provides additional resources to help you sign up for local pollution alerts, file complaints with the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and learns more about specific pollutants in the Toxic Substances Portal.
According to the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), emission events include “any upset event or unscheduled maintenance, startup, or shutdown activity, from a common cause that results in unauthorized emissions of air contaminants from one or more emissions points at a regulated entity.”
The contaminants released during emission events contribute to regional air quality issues such as ozone and smog formation as well as more localized air quality issues such as the dispersal of hazardous and carcinogenic air pollutants.
These events are self-reported by the facility personnel and include estimates of the amount and type of contaminants released to the air as well as the time span in which they were released and the conditions that are thought to have led to the event.
The TAC requires an initial report to be filed within 24 hours of the discovery of an emission event, and a finalized report to be filed within the two-weeks following the end of the emission event. As such, the information provided in the initial reports are subject to change and should be reconfirmed at the end of the two-week investigative period. The information in the map above is accurate at the time of publishing, but the most up-to-date emissions estimates will be available by clicking “More Info” in each event’s pop-up window.
The information used to produce this map and report was gathered from Texas Commission of Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) Air Emission Event Report Database, the EPA’s Facility Registry Service, and TCEQ’s Regulated Entity Search. The data is not conveniently accessible to most Houston-area residents without experience navigating the maze of State and Federal regulatory databases and is difficult to display spatially even with such experience. Air Alliance Houston provides improved access to this information in the interest of transparency and accountability, and we hope this is helpful in improving Houston-area residents’ awareness of the environmental impact of local industry.