Texas

Environmental groups in Corpus Christi say they are still finding remnants of the oil spill.

The Corpus Christi oil spill left unresolved questions about what the full impact on wildlife and the environment would be, and how effectively officials notified the public.

The spill was first reported on December 24 as a result of a pipe burst at the Flint Hills Resources crude oil terminal across the bay from Corpus Christi in Ingleside. Although 90 barrels of light oil were originally thought to have spilled, more recent estimates put the spill at 335 barrels or 14,000 gallons.

The cleanup is reported to be near or near completion, but some, including several environmental groups in the Coastal Bend area, oppose this narrative.

Armon Alex, co-founder of the Gulf of Mexico Youth Climate Summit and co-chair of the Corpus Christi Mayor’s Environmental Task Force, helped organize beach cleanups in search of light crude oil being washed onto local beaches. He joined the Texas Standard to talk about what he saw. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:

Texas Standard: Give us some background here. When did the residents first hear about this spill? I mean, it was Christmas Eve, right? And many were very busy preparing for the big holiday.

Armon Alex: I mean, it’s absolutely correct. I think it’s interesting: unfortunately, even today, when you ask many neighbors here in Coastal Bend if they knew about the oil spill, they’ll tell you they didn’t. In fact, when I visited the North Beach area here in Corpus Christi Bay – it’s maybe just a few miles from the original oil spill – I spoke to many people on this particular beach and 100% of them said that had no idea about the oil spill. Thus, there was no communication both from the side of the culprit of the spill and from the city authorities.

I know you and others have been looking for the light oil that may still be washing ashore. What did you find?

Whenever I first heard about a crude oil spill, it was Christmas morning. I’ve been following some of the reports and I think maybe a few days after that I decided, “You know, this is still going on, I need to see this for myself.” So on Monday, I went and visited University Beach right outside Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. The people who cleaned up the oil spill, third parties hired by Flint Hills Resources, cleaned it up. They reported that they were cleaning up the university beach that morning. And so I came in just a few hours after them to see what was going on. I wanted to see myself. And I think I was on the beach, at least, you know, not even more than a minute, and I found these popcorn-sized, paraffin-like, caramel-colored and chemical stinks coming from the beach. And I found them. The next day I went to North Beach. This was the second place where they did a big cleaning. I did the same: I took a few steps to the shore and found them right and left. I mentioned earlier that people didn’t know about the oil spill and it was very obvious because when I pick up these toxic residues off our coastline, you see families and, you know, children and dogs, all playing innocently and notions did not have.

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