A Texas City oil refinery plant reportedly suffered an equipment failure on Wednesday, October 6, leading to at least one road closure. This oil spill is far from a first for Texas and comes just days after a leak off the coast of California spilled more than 100,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean.
The Texas City Spill
On Wednesday morning Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City experienced an oil leak, spewing the oil across the nearby area. As a result of the spill, at least one roadway had to be closed to traffic. As of October 7, the refinery had not been able to stop the leak, meaning oil is still being released from the tank, and vapors are still being released into the air.
As a result of fumes coming off of the spilled oil, Loop 197 from 4th Avenue South to FM 519 was closed to non-essential traffic.
According to the interim director of Homeland Security for Texas City, the leak was the result of a pump seal that failed that morning. As the oil spilled from the refinery’s tank, it began filling the containment dike, which the refinery is now working to empty as quickly as possible.
No one was injured due to the spill, and the amount of oil spilled has not been confirmed at this time. However, reports of the scene state that there was a “large amount of fluid” spilling from the refinery’s tank, and energy research firm Wood Mackenzie estimates that the refinery’s tank can hold 400,000 barrels of oil in total.
“The refinery has deployed air monitoring in the community as a precaution, and there is no indication of risk to the community,” communications manager for Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Jamal Kheiry, said in a statement. “Cleanup is underway, and regulatory notifications have been made.”
An investigation into the cause of the spill and the reason for the pump seal failure remain underway. The clean-up efforts are ongoing. The leak is expected to be stopped by 7:30 Thursday (Oct. 7) evening.
While the oil spilling from the tank has been confined to the containment dike, the vapors coming off of that oil is more difficult to stop from spreading. Currently, foam is being sprayed onto the oil to stifle the vapors, but the initial road closures were the result of the possible risk posed by these gasses.
How Oil Spills Affect American Communities
Oil spills have wide-ranging impacts, far beyond the loss of revenue suffered by the oil company. First, the damage done to the nearby environment can lead to migration changes that can worsen coastal erosion. Animals can also ingest or inhale the oil, leading to potentially severe injuries.
The impacts on local communities can be nearly as dire: when oil spills contaminate a region, hunting, fishing, beach-going, and other activities that may be essential to the local economy may be restricted. Local residents, especially anyone involved in the clean-up efforts, may also face health risks due to oil spills.
If you’ve suffered due to a chemical spill in Texas, contact the Houston personal injury and environmental law attorneys at Lapeze & Johns to learn about how to seek relief.