A five-year study by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission found that two chemical companies, Marathon Ashland Petroleum and BP Chemical, have been releasing unacceptable amounts of benzene into the air around Texas City, 60 miles southeast of Houston. The levels of benzene, which is a known carcinogen, were three to six times higher than those permitted by TNRCC guidelines. The companies say the study’s conclusions are questionable and deny that area residents could face health complications. Environmental officials, who suffered headaches and vomiting while collecting air samples, are considering levying fines against the companies.