NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A new environmental report shows two New Mexico cities are emitting benzene levels higher than what’s federally allowed. Benzene is a carcinogen is known to cause respiratory problems.
The CDC reports that benzene causes harmful effects on the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells leading to anemia. The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that benzene causes cancer in humans.
The Environmental Integrity Project released the report that shows that the HollyFrontier refineries in Artesia and in Lovington were between 25% and 31% over federally allowed emission rates.
The Artesia HollyFrontier refinery reportedly saw its fenceline levels of benzene decline 55% last year however, they still averaged 25% over EPA guidelines in 2020. The report showed that annual benzene concentrations exceeded the EPA’s action level at 13 refineries in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.
The report also indicates that more than 530,000 people live within three miles of these 13 refineries and citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau and EPA data, 57% of them are people of color while 43% live below the poverty line. The refineries now have to look into the problem and submit a clean-up plan to the Environmental Protection Agency.