Sunday, September 09, 2007

VX (nerve gas) in Port Arthur

I've blogged previously about the environmental challenges in Southeast Texas, as well as the efforts of local activists (scroll to the end) to push back against the corporations and their lackeys in local government. Two developments in the past few weeks merit updating; first, the soon-to-be-terminated manager of the BP facility in Texas City was shocked to learn how many people had been killed in the plant over the years, and how few people even knew about it. Don Parus, still on BP's payroll at $279K annually, also told the court in the trial of the fifteen BP workers killed in the 2005 explosion at the facility, that a flaring system costing $150,000 was rejected by corporate management as too expensive. Be sure and read the comments at the end.

Secondly, from CLEAN, a waste byproduct of the chemical nerve agent VX is -- without community hearings and in the dead of night -- being transferred to and incinerated in Port Arthur, Texas:

To date, more than 350,000 gallons of VXH have been shipped and incinerated in Port Arthur. Has Veolia Environmental Services, the company receiving at least $49 million from the U.S. Army for incinerated VXH, offered to monitor emissions or conduct soil testing to make sure there is no nerve gas or other toxin being emitted in the process? Has any federal, state or local authority called for this testing? What does a community have to do to get the protection it deserves?

Judge Larry J. McKinney of Indiana's Southern (federal) district court ruled that the shipments from Indiana to Port Arthur should continue despite two rather frightening facts:

1. The neutralization process of VX nerve gas does not destroy all of the VX, some of the nerve gas remains in layers of organic matter. Pure VX nerve gas is in the shipments now traveling across eight states and being incinerated in Port Arthur, Texas.

2. The Army’s method to demonstrate that no nerve gas was present in the VXH was inept and failed to prove the absence of nerve gas in the waste produce as verified in testimony of the Army’s own 3rd party expert and a forensic chemist’s testimony at the hearing.

The TCEQ signed off on both the shipment and the incineration, and though the governors of both Ohio and New Jersey refused to take the shipments, naturally Governor 39% took no action to safeguard the health of Texans. He was busy in California this weekend saying stupid shit like this:

"Since when did the field of science become the sole purview of left-wing politicians?" Perry said. He added, to loud applause and laughter, that he has heard Al Gore talk about global warming so often, "I'm starting to think his mouth may be the lead cause."

I'll let Jane Dale Owen, a Blaffer/Humble Oil heir, ask the closing question:

... where are our elected officials and the governmental agencies whose job it is to protect us when we need them?

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