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Ike environmental toll apparent

A recent Associated Press investigation reveals that the environmental toll of Hurricane Ike is widespread...

  • At least half a million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and the marshes, bayous and bays of Louisiana and Texas.
  • There are multiple types of pollution ranging from diesel in the water to household chemicals.
  • As the storm approached, refineries and chemical plants burned off hundreds of thousands of pounds of organic compounds and toxic chemicals. Power failures sent chemicals such as ammonia directly into the atmosphere.
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry suspended all rules - including environmental ones - prohibiting or preventing preparation or response to Ike.
  • At times, a new spill or release  was reported to the Coast Guard every five to ten minutes, including reports of corrosive material and substances spewing from underwater pipelines.
  • In one week, enough crude oil was spilled to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

AP Investigation: Ike environmental toll apparent
By Dina Cappiello, Frank Bass, and Cain Burdeau
October 6, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hurricane Ike's winds and massive waves destroyed oil platforms, tossed storage tanks and punctured pipelines. The environmental damage only now is becoming apparent: At least a half million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and the marshes, bayous and bays of Louisiana and Texas, according to an analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

In the days before and after the deadly storm, companies and residents reported at least 448 releases of oil, gasoline and dozens of other substances into the air and water and onto the ground in Louisiana and Texas. The hardest hit places were industrial centers near Houston and Port Arthur, Texas, as well as oil production facilities off Louisiana's coast, according to the AP's analysis.

"We are dealing with a multitude of different types of pollution here ... everything from diesel in the water to gasoline to things like household chemicals," said Larry Chambers, a petty officer with the U.S. Coast Guard Command Center in Pasadena, Texas.

The Coast Guard, with the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies, has responded to more than 3,000 pollution reports associated with the storm and its surge along the upper Texas coast. Most callers complain about abandoned propane tanks, paint cans and other hazardous materials containers turning up in marshes, backyards and other places.

No major oil spills or hazardous materials releases have been identified, but nearly 1,500 sites still need to be cleaned up.

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