San Antonio’s 15 Worst Polluters

Deceleration‘s map of San Antonio’s major emitters of greenhouse gases, toxic chemicals, and so-called “criteria” pollutants.

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.

But as Deely starts to cycle down to a retirement at the end of 2018, his younger sister down on the shores of Calaveras Lake is growing up to be even worse.

[See: San Antonio’s Top 10 Greenhouse Gas Offenders.]

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. Alamo and Capitol Cement plants are behemoths, for instance, the fourth and fifth climate offenders in the city.

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

Note: The toxic data is referencing “onsite” releases signaling dangerous chemicals that is either being pumped into the water or air, landfilled or injected underground, treated or recycled (in a minority of cases), or some combination of all of the above.

Typically, it is “offsite” releases (not included here) that are intentionally exported for proper disposal or reuse. More on the subject from the EPA.

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