Hurricanes Cause Oil Refineries to Release More Pollution

Hurricanes Cause Oil Refineries to Release More Pollution

When powerful storms like hurricanes hit land, structural and property damage are not the only problems people have to deal with. When hurricane Laura hit land in Texas and Louisiana, oil refineries and rigs had to be shut down and evacuated to ensure the health and safety of workers. When being shut down, a refinery in Texas released 200 pounds of hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, and benzene and 100,000 pounds of other pollutants. Any time a refinery must shut down, emissions like this are released. These chemicals are carcinogens, so any amount released into the atmosphere is not good for human health.

Petroleum refining is an involved process that takes crude oil and separates and blends it into different products. We rely on these products, which include gasoline, diesel, kerosene, asphalt base, and petroleum gas. It is hard not to rely on oil refineries for these important products, so oil refineries have become a necessary evil.

Particulate matter being released is especially problematic for areas surrounding the refineries. People, homes, and cars that happen to be near the shutdown are unnecessarily exposed to the carcinogenic particulate matter.  When refineries start back up, large amounts of pollution can also be released. Pollution is then released when the refineries are fully operational, so people living in surrounding communities cannot win. They end up inhaling carcinogenic compounds that need to be avoided, leading to poor health in the future.

Particulate matter and other chemicals like benzene that are released by oil refineries are bad for human health. Benzene is a known human carcinogen that causes cancers of the blood including acute myeloid leukemia. Workers exposed to high levels of benzene in oil refineries have been found to have higher rates of the cancer. It can also cause cancers like multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. If you were exposed to benzene and now have cancer, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact us at 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form. We want to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Cathy Bussewitz, “Oil and gas industry assesses damage at refineries, plants” The Washington Post (August 27, 2020). [Link]

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