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Benzene Found After Harvey Damaged Houston Oil Refinery

Cancer-causing benzene – a chemical found in gasoline, crude oil, tobacco smoke, plastics and other products – has been detected in Houston’s air. Investigators found levels of the carcinogenic chemical compound in the Manchester neighborhood of Houston.

According to the Wall Street Journal, air monitors picked up levels of benzene after a Valero Energy Partners refinery reported damage from Hurricane Harvey. Two monitors found different concentrations of the carcinogen during different times of the day. Officials from the Houston Health Department and the Environmental Defense Fund discovered the pollutants on Sept. 4. Benzene leak at oil refinery following hurricane harvey

The Environmental Protection Agency joined the probe and tested the air on Sept. 5, according to the Journal article. An EPA spokesman told the Journal that the agency will continue to monitor the air quality. The Houston Health Department says more sampling is needed to find out how badly the air is polluted with the chemical compound. Investigators want to determine the source of the benzene plume and the extent of the air contamination.

Who caused the benzene leak?

The Wall Street Journal article reports that Harvey’s heavy rainfall caused the floating roof of a crude oil tank to sink, which lead to an oil leak. A Manchester oil refinery and subsidiary of Valero Energy Partners admitted benzene and other dangerous compounds came from a leak on Aug. 27, according to the Journal. The newspaper cited a report submitted by the refiner to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

In a statement issued on its website, Valero Energy Corp, which is the majority owner of Valero Energy Partners, said its own monitoring of the air found “no detectable levels of emissions in the community,” according to the Journal. However, the Houston Health Department did find some levels of dangerous compounds when officials went to the Valero refinery and monitored the air.

Residents of the Manchester area, like everyone living in Houston, were dealt a blow when Harvey pounded the region. With the news about the benzene emissions, it’s becoming evident that the hurricane had unforeseen consequences.

Our Houston attorneys know that a comprehensive investigation is critical when lives are at stake. According to the American Cancer Society, Benzene is linked to leukemia and other cancers of the blood cells. In addition to being a known carcinogen, the chemical has been found to cause damage to the central nervous system and bone marrow damage.

A senior health scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, which is investigating the leak in Manchester, said the short-term risks of benzene exposure include dizziness, nausea and light-headedness, according to The New York Times. “But this could also play into your long-term cancer risks,” Elena Craft, the senior health scientist, told The New York Times.

If you or a loved one lives in Manchester, Houston, and experienced any symptoms related to benzene exposure, contact Brewer & Pritchard P.C. immediately. We’re on the side of victims who have been injured through no fault of their own. If you have a case, we will work for you and hold the responsible party accountable. Call 800-445-8710 today or contact us online.