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Hurricane Harvey Oil, Chemical Spills Top 22,000 Barrels

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, more than 22,000 barrels of crude oil, refined products, and chemicals spilled at various sites in Texas, according to company reports to the U.S. Coast Guard that Reuters has reviewed.

Apart from the oil and chemicals, millions of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of other toxic substances spilled during and after Harvey slammed Texas at the end of August. The spills in the heart of the U.S. refining industry are one of the worst in the past few years, but are dwarfed by the 190,000 barrels that were spilled in Louisiana in the wake of Katrina in 2005.

After Harvey, more than 22,000 barrels of crude, gasoline, diesel, petrochemicals, and drilling wastewater spilled from storage terminals and refineries.

Of those 22,000 barrels, 10,988 barrels of gasoline and a gasoline blendstock spilled from the Galena Park facility of Magellan Midstream Partners. The spill was caused by Harvey-related flooding, and the product release has since been contained, Magellan Midstream Partners said.

“Clean-up activities at the facility are continuing and we are currently removing and replacing affected soil,” the company noted in its press statement. It expects clean-up activities to be finished “within a few weeks,” according to Magellan’s email to Reuters.  

The Coast Guard has been responding to clean-up efforts at refineries around Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

According to the filings to the Coast Guard, viewed by Reuters, around 365 tons of toxic chemicals, including sulfur dioxide, ammonia, toluene, benzene, and carbon monoxide escaped from storage and refinery facilities.

Related: The North Sea Oil Recovery Is Dead In The Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Thursday that it had “concluded that the probable source of benzene and volatile organic compound readings in the Manchester community in Houston was the roof failure and spill from a light crude storage tank at the Valero Houston Refinery during Hurricane Harvey. EPA investigation into Valero Houston Refinery response and cleanup activities will continue.”

The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) advocacy group has downloaded data from the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center and created an interactive map of the reported spills.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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