Ike Brings On The Pollution

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Hurricane Ike still may miss the petrochemical heart of the upper Texas Coast, but it's already taking a toll around here, both in lost product and environmental-wise.

Four plants near Houston have begun shutdown procedures, so the flares will be burning over the next several days and nights, and more could join them soon.

And with the flares, of course, comes increased pollution. (If you trust these companies, of course, 99 percent of these pollutants will be destroyed by the flares.)

Here's a tiny, random sampling of the cornucopia of contaminants being released:

INEOS chemical plant, south of Alvin on Chocolate Bayou -- 60,000 pounds of propene.

Equistar Chemicals, La Porte, 48,500 pounds of carbon monoxide.

British Petroleum, Texas City, 7,211 pounds of isobutane.

ConocoPhillips refinery, Sweeney, 1,000 pounds of benzene.

Down the coast, some companies are hedging their bets, too.

The Alcoa plant at Point Comfort will release 300 pounds of alumina hydrate dust while the Invista Sarl chemical manufacturing plant south of Victoria will release 16,800 pounds of nitrogen oxides.

Hurricanes don't discriminate. They hurt Big Bad Oil (if that's your view of the industry), `cause it loses beaucoup money during the "de-inventory" process of getting rid of its product, and it makes you enviros queasy cause of all the contaminants that are released to the ever-present flares that burn the stuff up.

But, what are you gonna do, eh?

-- Steve Olafson

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