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Harvey victims face toxic pollution as hurricane recovery begins

A tugboat Signet Enterprise with its crew — later rescued — is partially submerged near a refinery in Port Aransas, Texas, on Aug. 26, 2017.

PORT ARTHUR, TX — “Texas communities that have long experienced health problems from nearby oil refineries and chemical plants are now facing the fossil fuel industry’s longer-term impacts: storms made more severe by climate change and the painful recovery process that follows their landfall — a recovery made far worse by industrial contamination.

…Health disparities have always been sharp between wealthier Houston communities, far away from industry, and lower-income neighborhoods living next to plants. Last October, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services teamed up to do a comparison study of four Houston communities: two communities of color that sit at the edge of the city’s petrochemical industry, Harrisburg/Manchester and Galena Park, and two predominately white communities further away from industry, Bellaire and White Oaks/Eldridge. Among the study’s conclusions: the lower-income fence-line communities faced cancer risks and a respiratory hazard index that were at least 24 percent higher than the wealthier communities.

As recovery begins, disparities among the communities are likely to become more clear.”

— Alleen Brown, The Intercept

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