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Picture of Houston's pollution

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I came across this picture of Houston while browsing a NASA web site. It was taken by an astronaut in 2002. Those white streaks in the sky aren't clouds -- they're plumes from factories and refineries.

PIA04303_lrg.jpg

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I came across this picture of Houston while browsing a NASA web site. It was taken by an astronaut in 2002. Those white streaks in the sky aren't clouds -- they're plumes from factories and refineries.

PIA04303_lrg.jpg

Seems like those would be some friggin' massive plumes! I've never seen anything like that, ever.

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If you zoom in, you see that the largest plumes are coming from Texas City, southern Brazoria County, and Baytown. Makes sense.

The worst one is across the border in Louisiana, though...what is that? It's got some nasty brown stuff spewing out...

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If you zoom in, you see that the largest plumes are coming from Texas City, southern Brazoria County, and Baytown. Makes sense.

The worst one is across the border in Louisiana, though...what is that? It's got some nasty brown stuff spewing out...

Nah, I'm about ready to call BS on this one. In each case, it appears as though there are enormous plumes coming from Texas City, the likes of which would put Galveston in a shadow. That seems extremely unlikely, and if you ever watch the plumes typical of refineries along 225, you'll notice that they tend to dissipate rather quickly.

Also, similar-looking "plumes are situated throughout east Texas, even in areas where there is very little industry, much less huge refineries.

Lastly, there appears to be only one "plume" coming from the ship channel area, while Texas City is awash in them...except that not all of Texas City has refineries. I see "plumes" coming from residential areas...not to mention League City.

I think these are just funny-looking cloud formations.

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I think these are just funny-looking cloud formations.

I agree. These alleged "plumes" are also shown over the middle of the Gulf Of Mexico and oil & gas platforms would never create a plume that large.

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NASA says that's what they are. I believe NASA.

NASA's given us two very good reasons to doubt them in the last few months.

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NASA's given us two very good reasons to doubt them in the last few months.

Its alright to doubt but I will still take NASA's astronauts and scientists over unknown online forum posters' opinions.

Edited by webdude

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From the NASA link in the original post:

In the year 2000 Houston officially exceeded Los Angeles as the city with the worst air quality in the United States. Since then, major research has been underway to characterize the type, extent and sources of air pollutants in and around Houston. The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) is participating in work underway to study Houston

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From the NASA link in the original post:

In the year 2000 Houston officially exceeded Los Angeles as the city with the worst air quality in the United States. Since then, major research has been underway to characterize the type, extent and sources of air pollutants in and around Houston. The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) is participating in work underway to study Houston

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Its alright to doubt but I will still take NASA's astronauts and scientists over unknown online forum posters' opinions.

Astronauts should know about "PLUMES" they make some pretty righteous ones of their own in their adult diapers on their way to kill fellow astronauts.icon8.gif

BTW, when in 2002 were the photos taken, and who knew there were soooooooo many refineries off of either side of 59N on the way to Texarkana?

Edited by TJones

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From the NASA link in the original post:

In the year 2000 Houston officially exceeded Los Angeles as the city with the worst air quality in the United States. Since then, major research has been underway to characterize the type, extent and sources of air pollutants in and around Houston. The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) is participating in work underway to study Houston

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I stand corrected. I am guilty of merely skimming the text.

It happens to the best of us! :blush:

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Yes, as others have said, the white clouds are 1) actually steam from heat exchanges -- vented waste heat.. and 2) dissipate very quickly. Look at some of my pictures of Lyondell Citgo, the most dramatic of all the smokestacks -- visible from downtown. The most visible emissions from the refineries are actually what's harmless. I believe most of the actual particulate and other pollution is released from other sources, e.g., the flare vents where they just (partially) burn everything.

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Well, there might be another reason to doubt them. I believe Houston passed LA in OZONE pollution only -- and at that, only in number of days above maximum standards -- not total pollution or severity of pollution (air readings ppm). That would make the first line of this quote seem really misleading.

just saw this on good morning america.

per the american lung assoc, the most polluted cities are....

1. los angeles

2. pittsburgh

3. bakersfield

4. birmingham

5. detroit

6. cleveland

7. visalia, ca

8. cinncinati

9. indianapolis

10. st. louis

Nearly half of the U.S. population lives in counties that still have unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution, even though there appeared to be less ozone in many counties than previous years, the study found.

article

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3. bakersfield

7. visalia, ca

If you've ever spent any time in the San Joaquin Valley, those two aren't surprising at all. The smog is stunningly bad. Mountains on three sides traps everything in a huge bowl.

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There's a difference between smog pollution and particulate matter pollution. Houston still is among the worst offenders when it comes to smog and ozone but not particulate matter (the air pollution that's most dangerous to the lungs and respiratory system).

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Does anyone know what's up with the large flair burning in, what looks to be Baytown? It been shooting a big torch for about 10 minutes now. The horizon is a lovely brown this morning.

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Does anyone know what's up with the large flair burning in, what looks to be Baytown? It been shooting a big torch for about 10 minutes now. The horizon is a lovely brown this morning.

An industrial flare was producing heavy smoke in east Harris County this morning and attracting attention from motorists and residents over a wide area.

The smoke is coming from the Lyondell-Bassell complex at Sheldon and Wallisville Roads in the Channelview area, according to officials with Harris County Homeland Security & Emergency Management.

The plant's management "reports that operating conditions have made it necessary to flare at this time," Homeland Security officials reported in a news release. "Company officials report that there is no need for the community to be concerned or to take any action at this time."

from the chron

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Wow, it's still burning, albeit not as strong, an hour later. They filed for bankruptcy yesterday. Can the EPA fine a bankrupt company for polluting?

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Wow, it's still burning, albeit not as strong, an hour later. They filed for bankruptcy yesterday. Can the EPA fine a bankrupt company for polluting?

Yes. But I believe the EPA just becomes one of the may creditors that have to wait in line to get paid.

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Houston seems to have clean air, but Baytown is pretty ugly. The mornings always seem hazy and there always seems to be something in the air...

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There's a difference between smog pollution and particulate matter pollution. Houston still is among the worst offenders when it comes to smog and ozone but not particulate matter (the air pollution that's most dangerous to the lungs and respiratory system).

I have to make this point when people criticize Houston for having bad air quality. High levels of ozone are certainly nothing to celebrate, but I'd be more concerned about high levels of particulate matter. Los Angeles gets the double whammy, as they have high ozone and high particulate matter. It seems to be a bigger problem in inland cities or cities where polluted air gets trapped in lower-lying valleys. Thankfully, the Gulf breezes and lack of any mountainous area allows our air to dissipate fairly regularly.

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