To protect aquatic life, the discharge of effluent into Corpus Christi Bay and La Quinta Channel cannot exceed 95 degrees. In its application, Exxon states that, despite the presence of a cooling pond, the temperature of their effluent when it hits the channel will be 110 degrees, 15 degrees hotter than allowed. Exxon included a study that suggests that a diffuser will ultimately disperse the hotter effluent in a thermal plume that should ultimately reach the 95 degree criteria. “The design …balances the size and cost of the diffuser and the maximum achievable dilution…”
In issuing the Draft Permit, the TCEQ Executive Director states: Although these predictions were reviewed, the TCEQ is still developing procedures to determine whether the effluent discharge will exceed the temperature criteria. Rather than telling Exxon to go back to the drawing board and cool the effluent down before it is dumped into the La Quinta Channel, the TCEQ wants to issue the permit and, once the discharge begins, they will check the temperature on a daily basis to see where it is. If it exceeds the criterion, they will re-open the permit to see what can be done.
At that point, it will be too late. The plant will be built and operational. Exxon wants to discharge this hotter effluent at a rate of 9 million gallons every day, 13.24 million on peak days. TCEQ should require Exxon to get the temperature down now, before a permit is issued. They know it’s a problem. And, let’s not forget that this is warm industrial waste water, containing a number of pollutants including toxic spent caustic that can’t be shipped off site.
Please share with those organizations that are watching out for our bays in the interest of recreational anglers and commercial interests. We all need to be proactive to protect the habitat in the bay. Express yourselves on December 11.