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Oil refineries threatening U.S. communities with cancer-causing pollution

New Mexico refinery has second-worst levels of benzene in country

U.S. EPA air monitoring data at the fencelines of oil refineries has shown that 10 refineries across the U.S., including one in New Mexico, released cancer-causing benzene into nearby communities at concentrations above federal action levels. While the refineries are not in violation of the law, they are required to analyze the causes of the toxic emissions and then take action to reduce the pollution.

The second-worst refinery in the U.S. in terms of benzene levels, according to a new report, is the HollyFrontier Navajo Artesia refinery in Artesia, N.M. In 2018, a monitor at its fenceline detected benzene concentrations that could present a health risk only three football fields from an elementary school. The surrounding community is 74 percent Hispanic and most residents live below the poverty line.

“This report confirms the oil and gas industry is poisoning the air of New Mexican communities with cancer-causing benzene,” said Guardians’ Rebecca Sobel. “With air quality suffering throughout New Mexico because of unchecked fracking, it’s time to rein in this mess and hold these companies accountable to our health and safety.”

Read the press release.

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