Port Arthur Shares The Polluting Load

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Complain if you like of the pollution emanating from industries that line the Houston Ship Channel, but this week a petrochemical manufacturing plant in Port Arthur stakes its claim as one of the state's top-dog environmental scofflaws.

BASF FINA Petrochemical Limited Partnerships has gotten whacked with a $250,753 penalty by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for a slew of environmental misdeeds at its plant, said to be the world's largest steam cracker.

Steam crackers convert ethane, propane, naphtha blends or other feedstocks into olefins and aromatics, including ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, and toluene. (Like you didn't know that.)

The state cited the company for its handling of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and benzene emissions.

If there's a silver lining here (and there may be if you're poor and live in a drafty home in Port Arthur), it's that $100,000 of the fine will be diverted to the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission's West Port Arthur Home Energy Efficiency Program, which weatherizes the homes of low-income residents.

-- Steve Olafson

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