The Real "National Security" Threat to America: Rain in Houston

The rainfall associated with Hurricane Harvey has set an all-time record for the continental United States.  Soon, that record may advance to an all-time record for recorded history.  Welcome to the new world of climate change-induced enhancement of superstorms.  No border wall is going to stop this.

Some talk about the need for so-called "climate adaptation" efforts near coastal areas to protect communities from the wrath of such meteorological events, but what if such efforts were futile?  What if the dangers from these storms was already well within the castle walls?  As a timely and illustrative example of this futility and danger - and as an argument against notions of climate adaptation - I give you Houston, Texas.

Why such danger from within?  Because of what unbridled capitalism and greed has left buried in Houston's midsts.

May I introduce Terence O'Rourke, Special Assistant Harris County Attorney...

VIDEO: Dear Environmental Protection Agency: Please Clean Up the San Jacinto Waste Pits!

22 acres of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) next to the (now overflowwing) San Jacinto River near Interstate 10 in Houston.  As Mr. O'Rourke put it...

"The most toxic chemical ever produced by human beings....

During the Vietnam War, it was the active ingredient in the chemical warfare agent - Agent Orange."

This is a chemical that is toxic at levels in the parts-per-trillion range.

"It's not a question of if a hurricane will hit here, it's a question of when."

Guess what... it just did.  Hurricane Harvey.

22 acres of the most toxic chemical man has ever made, now under (soon-to-be) 25 TRILLION GALLONS of unwanted water in the region.  The worst has already happened.  See... Houston’s polluted Superfund sites threaten to contaminate floodwaters.

"Harris County, home to Houston, has at least a dozen federal Superfund sites, more than any county in Texas.  On top of that, the state lists several other highly toxic sites managed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  Up to 30 percent of the county is under water....  On Tuesday, ExxonMobil reported that two of its refineries east of Houston had been damaged in the flood and released pollutants."

The video above's title says "EPA, please clean up the San Jacinto Waste Pits." Let's hear what happened when Harris County, Texas tried to get that done.  Meet Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan...

VIDEO: County Attorney Vince Ryan on the San Jacinto River Waste Pits

"[The remedy for the site?]... to simply leave the poison in the river under a temporary rock cap that has already been readily breached by routine storm events."

Evidence uncovered in the litigation shows that the responsible corporations have hired their own scientists to 'author reports' to the EPA to support a leave-in-place remedy.  These so-called experts have intentionally circumvented the legal process, by predetermining the cheapest outcome, even before they conducted the required tests....

Various studies clearly showed that the river, storms, flooding, and forces of nature common in our region, will continue to cause the dioxin to be released into the environment; exposing future generations to the toxic chemicals buried in the river."

So (in the future) to protect America's national security, don't send troops to Afghanistan, build a wall on the Southern Border, or check for immigration documents at area storm shelters - send lawyers to Washington instead.

The true "national security" dangers to our Nation are already within our borders; our unchecked and reckless corporate polluters.  All that is needed to unleash their terror is another record storm; at this rate, coming again to Houston next Summer.


Rick Shankman's picture

No, I'm not making this irony

No, I'm not making this irony up...

"Arkema Inc. will not release a full inventory of its chemicals and where they are stored. Texas officials won’t either.  The reason?  Concerns about terrorism....

[Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott] Pruitt has cited the national security dangers of providing information about these facilities, which then would inevitably override the public’s right to know about risks in their own backyards."

See... If You Think the Government Will Do Something About Chemical Explosions in the Wake of Houston, Think Again: They say it’s because of concerns about terrorism.