AUSTIN, Texas—Engineers at The University of Texas at Austin College of Engineering’s Center for Energy and Environmental Resources have received $6.7 million to study air quality in and around the Corpus Christi, Texas, area.
The money results from a chemical and refining company’s condition of probation after a criminal conviction for environmental violations at one of its Corpus Christi plants.
The United States District Court in Corpus Christi, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) asked the center to implement the project. It involves building and maintaining seven air-monitoring devices and two surveillance cameras along Corpus Christi’s north side and its ship channel. The devices will record concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds, including benzene. Benzene, a natural component of crude oil and gasoline, is a known carcinogen.
“We were selected for this project in Corpus Christi because of our broad experience in air quality measurement and data sampling analysis,” said Dr. David Allen, the center’s director, and professor of chemical engineering. Researchers at the center will work in conjunction with the USEPA and the TCEQ.
The University of Texas at Austin engineers previously have performed extensive research involving Texas air quality. Among other projects, its researchers helped lead the largest study of air quality ever performed in Texas, involving six weeks of intensive air sampling and a 16-month research project on airborne fine particulate matter.
Allen said that engineers will begin collecting air samples following the installation of the air-monitoring equipment at the monitoring site. A volunteer advisory board will be formed to review project plans and consult on project implementation.
The University of Texas at Austin engineers will install, maintain and operate the air monitoring network continually for at least seven years. Dr. Allen anticipates the study will continue to provide significant environmental benefits to the Corpus Christi area beyond the initial seven-year period.
For more information contact: Becky Rische, College of Engineering, 512-471-7272.