Texas chemical plants cause problems for nearby residents

The Houston Chronicle is running an investigative series on chemical plants and their effects on nearby residents, and it ain’t pretty. There’s a fair bit of evidence suggesting that companies dramatically underreport their annual emissions. On top of that, accidental leaks — or what the industry calls “fugitive emissions” — are a major cause of chemical pollution and often much worse for human health than the more high-profile expected emissions. “Fugitives” are often closer to the ground where the wind is slower, which can allow greater concentrations to accumulate, and due to current lax rules, they’re sometimes allowed to leak for years. However, the Chronicle found, folks living near refineries are less likely to complain about pollution if the companies that own them invest in a little PR — small things like providing hot dogs for community events or offering to replace residents’ trees after accidental emissions kill them. Want some toxins on your frank?