May 11, 2000
CHRISTI'S POLLUTION HORROR STORY
"Refinery Row" Has
Become an "Environmental Ghetto"
Austin...The accumulated pollution from more than 16 refineries and
other heavy industries in Corpus Christi has fouled the water, poisoned
the soil and sickened local residents, according to documents released
today by Texas Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (TexasPEER).
Despite hundreds of pollution violations, record levels of contamination,
and elevated cancer rates and other health problems, little in the
way of remedial action has been taken by the state environmental agency.
According to state records, the Texas Natural Resources Conservation
Commission (TNRCC), the pollution control agency, has turned a deaf
ear to problems, including:
* One neighborhood, Dona Park, has been virtually condemned due to
extraordinarily high levels of lead, cadmium and other heavy metals
in the soil. In spite of these conditions, many of the contaminated
homes are still occupied.
* TNRCC withheld crucial test results from homeowners and refused
to require badly needed cleanup;
* No surveys for arsenic and other toxic contaminants prevalent in
the area have been conducted.
The people of Dona Point offer their neighborhood as a litmus test
for the effectiveness of Texas environmental policies. "There are
people who are sick all over the neighborhood," says one resident.
"I would venture to say that one house out of three has someone that's
"Texas authorities have allowed the Corpus Christi ‘Refinery Row'
to become a dangerous environmental ghetto -- the residents call it
a ‘Black Thumb' neighborhood," stated Texas PEER Coordinator Erin
Rogers. "TNRCC's response to the illnesses, violations and massive
contamination in Corpus Christi gives new dimension to the term ‘dereliction
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