HOUSTON, TX – There’s an old saying that goes something like this: ‘anything worth having comes with a price.’ The question for most folks is, ‘when does the price become too much?’ Folks along the Houston ship channel think they know the answer.
The 25-mile stretch of water ranks #1 among U.S. ports in both import and export tonnage and employs more than a million workers, generating some $178 billion for the states economy.
But like everything, it comes with a price.
“Ship channel residents are suffering under the heavy burden of asthma and cancer at the port,” says Adrian Shelley with Air Alliance Houston.
According to a survey conducted by the Healthy Port Communities Coalition, folks who live along the ship channel are sick from the pollution of heavy trucks and refineries.
“I have three kids,” ship channel resident Martha Torres says, “both of them has asthma and one of my daughters has problems with her skin.”
Of the 378 residents surveyed, the coalition says more than 27% reported having asthma, more than twice the statewide average. Nearly 6% said they had cancer.
“Facilities need fence line monitors that enable them to determine exactly what is leaving their fence line and exactly what they’re exposing their neighbors to,” Shelley explains.
The group also says heavy truck traffic is to blame.
We reached out to the Port Authority for comment on the numbers. In a statement, the numbers weren’t addressed, but we were told the Port “has a robust environmental policy and is recognized as a leader in environmental sustainability … the Port Authority makes sure its activities adhere to its policy.”
If the numbers are true, it could mean the price for billions of dollars in ship traffic is the health of those who live here. And the question for us is when does that price become too much?