San Antonio’s 15 Worst Polluters

Greg Harman

To state the obvious, San Antonio’s “Dirty” Deely coal plant is a really dirty polluter. We’re talking dirty to the tune of 2,755,917-annual-metric-tons-of-climate-destabilizing-CO2-pumped-out dirty. Add in the 740 tons of potent methane pollution and 14,117 tons of nitrous oxide pollution and that makes one foul globe-warming facility. Then there are the toxic metals and smog-creating gases. In total, Calaveras Power Station, of which Deely’s two units are a part, releases 6,892 pounds of lead, a potent neurotoxin, and around 800 tons of particulate matter into the air (that is, lung-clogging soot and smoke and the like), according to US EPA figures.

While a huge chunk of San Antonio’s toxic air pollution is generated at Calaveras Lake, facilities around San Antonio and Bexar County are also doing their part to endanger the public health. Check Deceleration‘s map of our top emitters of greenhouse gases, toxic chemicals, and so-called “criteria” pollutant. As with most cities, a large slice of our total greenhouse gas emissions (around 25 percent on average) come from our transportation system. There are many other sources too. While reform is needed across multiple sectors to make our city truly “sustainable,” the Deely plant (and Spruce, and some of these other included sites), offer potentially big gains for shutting down a relatively few sources.

San Antonio’s Top 15 Polluters

      1. JK Spruce Coal Plant
      2. JT Deely Coal Plant
      3. VH Brauning Natural Gas Plant
      4. Alamo San Antonio Cement Plant
      5. Capitol Cement Plant
      6. OW Sommers Gas Plant
      7. Covel Gardens Recycling and Disposal
      8. Nelson Gardens Landfill
      9. Tessman Road Landfill
      10. Calumet Speciality Products LLC
      11. EOG Resources Inc.
      12. Leon Creek Power Plant
      13. Lackland AFB
      14. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas Inc.
      15. Fort Sam Houston

Important note about the emissions specifically labeled “toxic”: These are “onsite” reported figures that may signal dangerous chemicals being dumped into the water or air, landfilled or injected underground, treated or recycled (in a minority of cases), or all of the above. Typically, it is “offsite” releases (not included here) that include those toxic waste streams that are transferred out of the facility for disposal or reuse. More on the subject from the EPA.

For the generalist, here’s a quick and dirty greenhouse gas pollution breakdown by Bexar County economic sector.

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All data from the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, Toxic Release Inventory, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality records. To think, it’s almost all an under count. Deceleration will be adding more data as it becomes available.

Greg Harman is Deceleration’s founder and co-editor.