Air Alliance Houston’s analysis of state data reveals that Harris County facilities released a total of more than 1.8 million pounds (over 900 tons) of excess air pollutants over the December 2022 Winter Storm Elliott. All of these excess emissions were reported by the facilities as due to the ‘severe weather,’ and 11 out of the 14 facilities that reported emissions blatantly violated their legally allowed hourly emissions limits – exposing residents to harmful pollution on top of the freezing cold.
Most of these excess emissions would be avoidable if industry was required to prepare better for extreme weather. People shouldn’t have to worry about toxic emissions in the middle of a weather emergency.
Read below our full emissions report compiled by AAH’s Research and Policy Coordinator Anthony D’Souza.
Fourteen distinct industrial facilities located in Harris County reported air emission events to the TCEQ during the winter storm, with some of them reporting more than one, bringing the grand total to 18 emission events. Cumulative emissions across all facilities and pollutants over the Winter Storm exceeded 1.8 million pounds (over 900 tons).
Facility-level Emissions Total
Emission totals at each facility ranged from:
- ExxonMobil Baytown Refinery: 551,113.8 lbs (275.6 tons) to
- (TPC) Houston Plant: 44.9 lbs (0.02 tons)
|Facility Name||Emission Totals (lbs)||Percentage of Total (%)|
|EXXONMOBIL BAYTOWN REFINERY||551,113.8||30.519|
|DEER PARK OIL REFINERY||527,375||29.205|
|CHEVRON PHILLIPS CHEMICAL CEDAR BAYOU PLANT||456,217.1||25.264|
|EXXONMOBIL CHEMICAL BAYTOWN OLEFINS PLANT||143,850.2||7.966|
|EQUISTAR CHEMICALS CHANNELVIEW COMPLEX||90,122||4.991|
|PASADENA REFINING SYSTEM PRSI||6,671.1||0.369|
|PASADENA PLASTICS COMPLEX||6,642.9||0.368|
|AIR LIQUIDE LA PORTE ASU AND SMR||6,319.34||0.350|
|TOTALENERGIES PETROCHEMICALS & REFINING USA LA PORTE PLANT||3,673.93||0.203|
|AIR LIQUIDE LARGE INDUSTRIES US||1,150.44||0.064|
|LYONDELL CHEMICAL BAYPORT CHOATE PLANT||733.28||0.041|
|CHANNELVIEW PEAKING FACILITY||474.52||0.026|
The cumulative duration of releases for each facility ranged from:
- Chevron Phillips Chemical, Cedar Bayou Plant: 467.8 hours to
- (TPC) Houston Plant: 1.25 hours
Rate of Release
The rate of release ranged from:
- (PEMEX) Deer Park Oil Refinery: 22,929 lbs/hour to
- (TPC) Houston Plant: 35.92 lbs/hour
Permit Limit Violations
Using the reported emission values for each pollutant and the duration of release at each facility, the rate of release was calculated and compared with the permitted emission limit for each pollutant. Out of the 18 total emission events, 13 of them recorded a permit limit exceedance, with most of these recording multiple exceedances.
Therefore a grand total of 52 permit limit exceedances (or permit violations) occurred across all facilities, with ExxonMobil Baytown Refinery recording the most: 11.
These cumulative emissions consisted of nearly 100 unique pollutants, including criteria air pollutants like particulate matter and hazardous air pollutants like benzene. Carbon monoxide comprised the largest share of the emissions at 44.3% of the total (nearly 800,000 lbs).
The top 5 pollutants alone constituted 92.2% of the more than 1.8 million pounds of pollution released into the air:
|Pollutant||Emissions (lbs)||Percent of total (%)|
84 chemicals constitute the remaining 7.8% of pollution ranging from Isobutane (0.81%) to trans-2-butene (0.000005%)