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Port Arthur is Sacrificed so the US can have Gasoline

Port Arthur is a town within Jefferson County, Texas, home to numerous huge refineries that process 900,000 barrels of crude oil a day, and the proposed end destination for the Keystone XL pipeline, that would carry bitumen from Canada’s tar sand pits to the Gulf coast refineries. In a recent article, Ted Genoways, visited the residents of Port Arthur and reported that they are mostly sick and dying, calling it an ‘American Sacrifice Zone’.

The largely low-income, African-American population is trying to relocate after decades of living in the shadow of one of the world’s largest refinery complexes. Due to the occasional flare-off of toxic gases, numerous chimneys belching columns of black smoke into the atmosphere, and the rare accident or leak, Genoways found that residents local to Port Arthur had extremely high rates of disease and death.

Data compiled by the Texas Cancer Registry showed that cancer rates amongst the African-American community living in Jefferson County were 15% higher than in the rest of Texas, and that the mortality rate for those who had cancer was a massive 40% higher than the average Texan.

Related Article: US Refineries Respond to Latin American Shortfall

A separate study by the University of Texas Medical Branch found that residents of Port Arthur were four times more likely than people who lived 100 miles away, to suffer from heart and respiratory problems, nervous system and skin disorders, headaches and muscle aches, and ear, nose, and throat problems.

On his visit Genoway commented that many of the residents were forced to use respirators or other medical assistance to breathe.

If the Keystone XL pipeline is approved then things are likely to get even worse in Port Arthur. The pipe would deliver an additional 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day, which the refineries would then work to convert into diesel and petroleum coke. Whilst not much is known about the effects of coke, earlier in the year a dark cloud of petroleum coke appeared over Detroit, with a high content of vanadium, a cancer causing metal.

Just one of the refineries in Port Arthur
Just one of the refineries in Port Arthur. (NY Times)


When the media reports on fossil fuels, it is generally the long-term effects on the climate that are discussed, but the sad thing is that many other people suffer far more, on a personal level, and it is never reported.

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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  • KZ on April 26 2016 said:
    I'm a resident of Port Arthur not born here but moved here in 2003. Had a child with her father that was born and raised here. It's sad to see how my child has major allergies and upper respiratory infection issues everyday. I have friends with children ages 7 and under fighting leukemia as we speak. We've had several deaths in his family due to cancer, all whom we born and raised here. I have several friends fighting cancer as we speak. This area is great for jobs, BUT NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO LIVE HERE!!!!! ALL HOMES SHOULD BE BOUGHT OUT AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO MOVE AND EVALUATE THIS DEATH SENTANCE OF A CITY. WE ARE MOVING BECAUSE CANCER IS #1 IN MY FAMILY AND IM SCARED TO DEATH. AGAIN, REFINERIES SHOULD ONLY BE ALLOWED HERE IN PORT ARTHUR AND SURROUNDING CITIES. YOU CAN DRIVE TO WORK HERE. IF THE JOB IS GOOD WHY NOT DRIVE THE DISTANCE. IM SICK OF SEEING EVERYONE I LOVE DIE OF CANCER!!!!!!! GOD BLESS AND PLANT WORKERS BE SAFE AND IM PRAYIBG FOR YOU AND ALL OUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS IN THE PITS OF HE##.
  • Rodney Hytonen on March 10 2014 said:
    No one - I mean NO ONE - buys that "EPA Nazi" bull.

    Regulation is nonexistent in America.

    And that picture is beginning to look like more and more if West Virginia, where gas prices are the highest. Pretty soon the industriaization will all meet and there will be NO MORE residential farm or wildlife areas at all.

    And by then we will have exported ALL our resource and even the industrialization will be abandoned and fall into even uglier, more squalid and toxic, less habitable ruin.

    Anyone who doesn't believe it can all be used up, just has not concept of the massive scale of this.

    Internal combustion has brought this world about, and it can eliminate it even more suddenly.
  • garrett on September 07 2013 said:
    Texas doesn't like regulations. Texans suffer terribly. New Yorkers don't like regulations either but we have them. We don't suffer like you do. Your book says, You reap what you sow. We still don't have fracking, BUT we still have clean water. Wake up and understand that your state government doesn't give a hoot about you. They care only for the big guys. Am I wasting my time? Regulations are there to protect YOU and me!! God almighty, why don't you understand this relationship? Are you just plain stupid? I don't think so but I do wonder sometime. Good luck.
  • John Boy on September 07 2013 said:
    "Data compiled by the Texas Cancer Registry showed "that cancer rates amongst the African-American community living in Jefferson County were 15% higher than in the rest of Texas, and that the mortality rate for those who had cancer was a massive 40% higher than the average Texan."

    Obamacare will have a far more deleterious effect on cancer survival rates, and not just in Port Arthur, but all around the country. If such a meager provincial argument is your best against fossil fuels (and it's true, the climate change and energy security arguments have been busted since Obama took office) then you need to go into a new line of work. Fossil Fuel scare-mongering don't pay anymore.
  • MikeA on September 07 2013 said:
    People may find this difficult to believe, but most of us enjoy living in this area. I grew up in Nederland and live in Groves, both of which share a border with Port Arthur. The refineries and chemical industry are a huge employer in the area and pay people top dollar. Where else can someone with only a high school diploma expect near lifetime employment and earn $80-120k/year. I can see the flare stacks of the 600,000bbl/day refinery mentioned in this article from my house and no one around me has the problems mentioned. Maybe there is a 15% increase in the possibility of cancer amound the "african american" community, but Port Arthur has a large population of welfare recipients who live in older Section 8 housing. It's probably more likely that growing up poor, living in substandard apartments, smoking and not taking care of yourself (the obesity rate is through the roof) can cause a 15% increase in cancer rate than anything that the industry is doing. Compare apples to apples, instead of apples to Chevy trucks and you'll get a more realistic picture. And for the record, the air in Port Arthur is still cleaner than the air in Houston & Los Angles according to the EPA.
  • Joe on September 06 2013 said:
    There has not been a new refinery built in this country since before I was born (in Dallas) as it is virtually impossible to get by the EPA or the environmental Nazis. All we can do is continue to expand existing facilities that already have permits - such as the ones in Port A. This is the results of generations of NIMBY politics and which will continue for the indefinite future.
  • mdubya on September 06 2013 said:
    Texas is hell bent on destroying the entire coastline for the sake of industry. The seafood harvest's are abysmal, oysters cant be eaten in south texas. The oil plat's wash millions of gallons of detergent's and run-off waste into the gulf daily and now weve welcomed a known super-polluter from china , 'Tyranis in Gregory , Tx. a seemless steel pipe foundry that cost a billion + to build , this Chinese owned co. will take in fresh gulf water and expel dead water.Thanks for the great job creation number's governor, but ve been going to Rockport , Tx since the 60's, lived there off and on, and I'd rather have the coast and the view back, the seafood industry back, the crabs and oysters , the birds . Gw's grandfather law in large part coupled with rick's recruitment of heavy polluting industry that requires masses of low skilled cheap labor(illegals), has all but ruined my Texas.

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