Texas Plants Have Been Illegally Polluting, Report Finds

Apr 29, 2016

Credit Thomas Bougher / Texas Tribune

When Texas industrial plants break down or close for maintenance, they often spew tons of pollutants into the atmosphere. And they aren’t being properly held accountable, reports The Texas Tribune. A new report has found that 679 facilities from the Gulf of Mexico to West Texas emitted more than 68 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, benzene and other toxic substances last year.

The pollution occurred during over 3,000 incidents of breakdown or maintenance. State environmental regulators have not adequately been policing the rogue emissions, the report says.

Dow Chemical’s plant in Freeport accounted for the highest amount of illegal pollution: nearly 1.3 million pounds. Why is this happening? The report explains that in Texas, penalties for illegal emissions are “too infrequent and too low.” “Fines . . . are often very small in comparison to . . . the profits generated by the industry.”