What To Expect at the December 11th TCEQ Meeting – part two

This is the second in a series of posts in which we will provide some information on what will occur and how you can participate. Our first post described the meeting process. This post addresses what this meeting is all about.

Where/When will the meeting be? The meeting will take place on December 11th at Stephen F. Austin Elementary School and it will start promptly at 7pm.  The address is 308 N. Gregory, Gregory, TX 78359.

It is important to note what this meeting is NOT about; it’s NOT about Exxon’s use of 20 to 25 million gallons of water per day to operate, that is a subject of local concern and the City of Corpus Christi has already said they can use it; it is NOT about flooding potential from the complex, TCEQ has no jurisdiction over flooding and it is a local concern for elected officials and the drainage district; it is NOT about Exxon’s air permit for the plant or their terminal on La Quinta Channel; and it is NOT about the construction of the heavy haul road across Hwy 181.  Those are for another day.

This meeting is about the industrial wastewater effluent and storm water that Exxon will discharge through pipeline and open drainage ditches to Copano/Mission/Port and Corpus Christi Bays.  The industrial wastewater will flow into Corpus Christi Bay at the rate of 9 to 13 million gallons per day.  The stormwater will flow to Copano Bay; it will also flow past Blackwelder and Sunset Drive in Gregory, under HWY 181, behind Bay Ridge and into Corpus Christi Bay.  Stormwater will carry grease and oil, polyethylene pellets, and residual equipment and process contaminants.

Exxon needs air and water permits to operate.  The air permit is more complicated for them because folks understand what nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and greenhouse gases are and how they affect our health.  Exxon believes the water permit is the easiest because most folks don’t understand the chemicals they will discharge or the implications.  They put this on a fast track to get a permit under their belt.  If they succeed on the water permit, they will discourage opposition to their air permits.

So, what are the concerns?  We posted the permit itself.  While lengthy, you can

  • cut to the chemicals that will be discharged in their effluent;
  • cut to the failure of a review by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the impact to the Whooping Crane habitat;

    The endangered Whooping Crane
    Photo: PIXNIO
  • see where they disregard the impact on the endangered piping plover because it is not a petroleum refinery but ignores the discharge from a chemical plant and the threat of the polyethylene pellets that will end up in both the effluent and stormwater;
  • see the obvious lack of study on the impact of other Texas listed threatened species such as the black-necked stilt and reddish egret;
  • see where they admit the effluent water will enter the Texas declared impaired waters of Corpus Christi Bay 15 degrees higher than allowed, and how their plan to make it right is to diffuse the temperature and test it after the plant is operational;
  • and, this warmer water will contain chemicals that are not soluble such as hexachlorobenzene and toxic spent caustic;
  • and these chemicals will flow into the bay and join the iron oxides flowing into the bay from Voestalpine; and, there is no mention of the cumulative effect of all of this on the marine life because TCEQ looks at each permit independently.

When do we say enough is enough?  Voestalpine and Cheniere are already here.  Exxon is not.

We will post more thoughts in the coming days but we believe you all have your own.  Please express yourselves at the Public Meeting on December 11th.

TCEQ Public Meeting: EXXON/SABIC Industrial Wastewater Permit