In the wake of a series of fires, explosions, and pollution releases at chemical plants, a new report reveals that the Houston region’s rapidly growing plastics industry is significantly increasing air pollution and safety risks.
A review of state and federal records by the Environmental Integrity Project found 90 plants that manufacture plastics or the ingredients of plastics in the Houston/Port Arthur region. These plants emitted 55,704 tons of potentially health-damaging pollutants in 2017, the most recent year for which data are available. That was 22 percent of total emissions from all industries in the region. An additional 45 plastics-related expansion or plant construction projects in the Houston region are proposed but not yet built, and three new expansions were completed in 2018 for which emissions data are not yet available.