By DINA CAPPIELLO
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle
BP's Texas City refinery, which already has been fined for safety violations that led to a deadly March 2005 explosion, is now investigating whether it has been accurately reporting pollution to the federal government....
The increase in emissions at BP was so large it distorted the data for refineries nationwide, according to the EPA. The Texas City plant accounted for the bulk of a 15 percent increase in emissions in 2004 that drove refinery pollution to its worst level since 2000, based on the agency's data....
But the pollution review also could have ramifications for the Houston region's efforts to clean up smog, plans based, in part, on emission estimates provided by companies to the government. If BP's estimate to the EPA turns out to be correct, the additional and previously undocumented pollution could be enough to influence the state's plan to reduce the region's smog, experts said.
Erroneous estimates of pollution from the industry are not new. In 2000, as part of the Texas Air Quality Study, researchers found that companies in the Houston area were underreporting emissions of certain chemicals by as much as three to 10 times. That finding prompted the state to rethink how it planned to address the region's smog problem, requiring deeper cuts of those underestimated compounds.
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