AP photo by Eric Gray
The widespread environmental devastation caused by Hurricane Ike has been pretty well documented—the oil spills (about a half a million gallons worth), a missing drill rig, and destroyed pipelines and infrastructure were all bad enough to register as environmentally catastrophic. But there’s yet another unfortunate victim to the storm’s wrath—the largest biodiesel refinery in the US.Biodiesel Refinery Damage
In an investigation by the Associated Press into Ike’s environmental toll, it was discovered that a rupture in a storage tank at GreenHunter Energy Inc.’s biodiesel refinery lead to leakage of around 2,100 gallons of vegetable oil.
From the AP:
Along the Houston Ship Channel, a tanker truck floating in 12-feet-high flood waters slammed into a storage tank at the largest biodiesel refinery in the country, causing a leak of roughly 2,100 gallons of vegetable oil. The plant, owned by GreenHunter Energy Inc., uses chicken fat and beef tallow to make biodiesel shipped overseas. It opened just months earlier.
We Export Biodiesel, Import/Spill Oil
It’s also worth noting that the refinery was making biodiesel to ship overseas—with all the frenzied talk (and congressional support to boot) of offshore drilling to solve the energy crisis, perfectly sound renewable fuel made right here in the US is being shipped out internationally. And with 500,000 gallons of crude oil newly awash in the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana and Texas marshlands serving as a fresh reminder that offshore drilling isn’t quite as environmentally sound as some politicians might claim, this paradox seems even more baffling.