Hurricane Harvey damaged ExxonMobil refineries, causing hazardous pollutants to leak

Flood waters rise along the refinery section of the Houston Ship Channel

In the other incident, a roof that normally covered a tank at the Baytown oil refinery detached and sank below the oil and other materials held in the container, resulting in what The Post calls "unusually high emissions, especially of volatile organic compounds, a category of regulated chemicals".

A report filed with Texas environmental regulators said Exxon expects air emissions linked to the damage will end by Friday at the facility.

Residents in Manchester and across East Houston complained of a odd, unexplained smell starting on Saturday night, long before the worst of Hurricane Harvey had even hit. "The unit was stabilized". After all, it seems like nearly everybody was flaring or just releasing all kinds of chemicals. As a result, petrochemical companies are expected to report emissions of pollutants to the nearby communities, which are largely minority and low-income.

The company did not say what was in the tank. "Actions were taken to minimize emissions and to restore the refinery to normal operations". Chevron Phillips, for example, said that it expected its Cedar Bayou chemical plant to exceed permitted limits for several hazardous pollutants, such as 1,3-butadiene, benzene and ethylene, during shutdown procedures. The company admitted to flaring hazardous materials at its Baytown refinery both Sunday and Monday. In this case, it caused product to spill to the ground.

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Companies are now working to clean up the mess as best they can, with Pasadena Terminal saying it is "taking all necessary steps to prevent or minimize any increased risk to human health and safety and to the environment" in its damage report.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 edged down 13 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $46.44 a barrel. According to oil market analysts cited by CNBC, about 20 percent of the country's oil refining operations are out of service. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for close to 20 percent of total U.S. crude oil production. The oil giant also has halted operations at its Pasadena facility.

In cash trading, the spread between Gulf Coast gasoline prices and benchmark futures rallied further, a day after hitting a five-year high in anticipation of constrained supply.

It is unknown how long the refineries will remain out of production, as the extent of flood damage is not yet known.

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