FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday July 30, 2009
CONTACT: Dr. Neil Carman 512-663-9594 cell;
Suzie Canales 361-334-6764
Alleges Health Problems from CITGO Refinery Fire
Citing specific concerns over community impacts of toxic Hydrofluoric Acid in accidents, Groups call for full investigation by TCEQ
Corpus Christi, Texas -- Sierra Club (SC) and Citizens for Environmental Justice (CFEJ) requested in a letter this week to Mark Vickery, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, that the agency erroneously claimed there were no community members adversely effected due to the toxic air pollution from CITGO’s fire in the alkylation unit on July 19-20, 2009.
The TCEQ has not spoken to effected EJ community members near the CITGO fire, who have serious concerns about the toxic air pollution, including several who have had adverse health effects since July 19-20, 2009. The TCEQ needs to more carefully assess the toxic airborne releases of hydrofluoric acid vapors from CITGO based on the serious concerns of public health impacts.
The SC/CFEJ letter describes serious public health concerns over CITGO’s egregious failure to notify and evacuate the nearby community as well as attempting to downplay fence-line community impacts of its toxic refinery pollution, in particular hydrofluoric acid.
“For a fire to have gone on for 2 days, I feel that they (LEPC/CITGO/TCEQ) should have come out to the community to talk to us, to inform us of what’s
going on,” said Jean Salone, a Hillcrest resident and member of CFEJ. “Neighbors I’ve talked to have had sore throats and headaches. Even dizziness. Some have told me about red residue outside after seeing a red cloud on Monday and others have some white specks on outdoor things. It’s awful that no one has come out to see how we’re
“Corpus Christi has the single highest
concentration of oil refineries in the U.S. using
Hydrofluoric Acid (Hydrogen Fluouide of HF),
an extremely dangerous chemical as a catalyst
in the alkylation units, a chemical which poses
the single worst-case accidental release scenario
and makes it even more hazardous for citizens
living along refinery row,” said Dr. Neil Carman, chemist and Clean Air Program director for Sierra Club. “CITGO
has failed to report toxic environmental releases
of Hydrofluoric Acid to the U.S. EPA for the
last twenty-years, except for its serious accidents,
and may be fudging as badly as it did with its
benzene tank releases it was criminally convicted
of under the federal Clean Air Act.”
The letter to TCEQ executive director Mark Vickery includes a July 22, 2009 letter to CSB Chairman John Bresland raising concerns over CITGO’s irresponsible actions that the groups seek to address:
“CITGO responded to this serious event in typical
fashion, they attempted to minimize this event to the local
community,” said Suzie Canales, Executive Director of Citizens for Environmental Justice. “This
event supports our position for the need of a buffer zone
- to relocate, at a fair price, the people that want to move.
It is too dangerous to live adjacent to CITGO, a repeat offender
and convicted criminal.”
“We are asking for a thorough investigation by the
TCEQ of the serious event from last Sunday. We are concerned
that negligence on behalf of CITGO led to the serious injury
to the employee and put a whole community in needless risk.” added Canales.