Harvey’s biggest spill yet: Hurricane is blamed for half a MILLION gallons of gas being spilled into Houston Ship Channel as ‘chemical exposure-like symptoms are reported’

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
By Paul Martin

In total over 461,000 gallons spilled at a petroleum tank farm in Galena Park
Some entered a waterway next to the channel and could cause contamination
Environmentalists say they’ve already had anecdotal reports of symptoms
Reported exposure-like symptoms include headaches and respiratory problems
But Magellan Midstream Partners said it’s contained spillage and is cleaning up
It said it’s replacing soil contaminated by its gas and sprayed spill with foam
EPA said it’s not aware of environmental damage outside of Magellan’s property
Tanks have been swept away and their roofs have collapsed under rainfall
However, it’s not yet been determined exactly what caused Magellan’s spill

12 September 2017

Almost half a million gallons of gasoline have been released into the Houston Ship Channel in the wake of Hurricane Harvey – making it the storm’s largest reported spill to date.

In total 10,988 barrels – more than 461,000 gallons – spilled from a petroleum tank farm in Galena Park, with some pouring into a waterway next to the shipping channel.

That means there’s a risk of groundwater contamination affecting the populace, and symptoms consistent with chemical poisoning have already been reported, say critics.

Gasoline is more volatile than oil, meaning it evaporates more quickly after it’s spilled.

But it’s also more likely to catch fire, and can more rapidly penetrate the soil and potentially contaminate groundwater supplies.

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, said the group had received anecdotal reports of people in the Houston area suffering symptoms associated with exposure to chemicals in contaminated floodwaters.

They include headaches and respiratory problems.

He and other environmentalists criticized officials for not being proactive in publicizing the spill and warning Houston-area residents that it had occurred.

‘They ought to know exactly how much gasoline was spilled, where it is now, how the state is containing it, and whether they should worry about any ongoing public health threats,’ said Kara Cook-Schultz of the Texas Public Interest Research Group.

The spill, from a petroleum tank farm in Galena Park operated by Magellan Midstream Partners, was first reported to state and federal officials on August 31, but no volume was given at that time.

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