Gulf Coast Resources

Deceleration Mapping Hurricane Harvey’s Toxic Releases

hurricane harvey gif
NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens and Jesse Allen, using data from the NASA-NOAA GOES project and the University of Wisconsin’s Space Science and Engineering Center MODIS Direct Broadcast system.


The storm may have passed, but the damages are starting to be understood.

Greg Harman

Though the more obvious violence of Hurricane Harvey may be passed, residents of Southeast Texas and Louisiana continue to face threats from the storm’s aftermath. One of those very real threats comes from toxic releases from chemical flaring, explosions, and spills of the omnipresent petrochemical industry. Earlier today, the Los Angeles Times reported, that the industry shutdowns and startups alone “released 2 million pounds of pollutants, equal to 40% of all the emissions from 2016.” That in additional to noxious ephemeral lakes, potentially leaching hazardous toxins from unremediated Superfund sites found around the county.

“The hurricane did what terrorists could only dream of,” Michael E. Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, told The New York Times. In this case, the terror is much of our own making. It’s been estimated that Harvey may have been strengthened up to 30 percent by industrially driven global warming.

Refineries and ports from Corpus Christi to Houston have shut down, as have one in four offshore platforms in the entire Gulf of Mexico, and possibly thousands of wells across the sprawling South Texas Eagle Ford Shale. By way of response, Deceleration has prepared this Google Map of all reported releases of toxic chemicals due to the climate disaster known as Harvey.

Some of these events are ongoing. Many are past. And much is happening unreported. We will be adding sites as we become aware of them and welcome any contributions of news or regulatory accounts as well as personal photos or video clips from those on the ground or still sheltering in place. Email with updates.

For an ideas of the full vulnerability of residents along the coastal zones of this petrostate, see this map of the complete list of toxic emitters found along the Texas Coast.


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