On September 20, Category 4 Hurricane Maria whipped Puerto Rico with winds traveling at 155 miles per hour, just two miles per hour short of a Category 5 storm. Over the next three days, catastrophic flash flooding, storm surges and rainfall – up to 35 inches in some places – inundated the island. According to Puerto Rico’s governor, damage from Hurricane Maria is estimated at $95 billion, or 1.5 times the territory’s annual gross national product.
The Gulf Coast Power Association is an energy group with a diverse list of members from Shell to SolarCity. At their fall conference in Austin earlier this month, Texas A&M climatologist John Neilsen-Gammon presented on Hurricane Harvey’s record-breaking rainfall. His big takeaway: It’s time to blame climate change.
Frontier Group has created a map of Superfund sites in Puerto Rico. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, some of these sites may pose a risk to human health and the environment.
Volatile chemicals caused an explosion at the Arkema Crosby chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, on August 31, 2017. They exploded after the plant lost power due to Hurricane Harvey, which turned off the refrigerators that normally keep these chemicals stable. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) just reported that eight different contaminants stored on site were released, due to flooding and the subsequent fire.2 While the contaminated floodwaters were contained soon after the flooding began, the TCEQ estimates that 23,000 pounds of contaminants were released to the air.
Reports indicate that flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey spilled at least 31 million gallons of raw sewage in Texas, but likely spilled far more. That’s the equivalent of every person in Houston flushing a toilet seven times. This pollution threatens human health.
Florida’s sewage systems are already strained by the Florida coast’s rapidly growing population. City growth policies encourage housing and economic development without updating necessary infrastructure. In many of the state’s biggest coastal cities, sewer systems were ill-prepared to handle Irma’s heavy rains and high tides.
The floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey have receded, but the work to clean up in the storm’s aftermath has just begun. One thing left in Harvey’s wake is a tremendous amount of debris -- people’s belongings and furniture, parts of buildings, trees, and boats destroyed during the hurricane.
Texas’ oil and gas regulator, the Railroad Commission of Texas, has received reports of spilled oil, gas, and other fluids from at least 20 locations, involving thousands of barrels of oil and produced water. We may never know the full impacts of these spills, but here’s what we know now.
Officials are still trying to confirm whether Texas floodwaters have spread contamination from the toxic waste sites known as “Superfund sites” to residential areas. The Environmental Protection Agency says 13 Superfund sites were flooded and potentially damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Frontier Group has compiled a list of those locations, along with the contaminants at the sites and associated health concerns.
Frontier Group has created a map of toxic sites and nuclear plants in the path of Hurricane Irma. Under severe weather conditions, some of these sites may pose a risk to human health and the environment.