"Texas’ Brazos River, Captive and Contaminated"

"Dow-Freeport, the largest chemical plant complex in the Western Hemisphere, dominates—and pollutes—the Lower Brazos Watershed."

"One January day in 1971, Sharron Stewart stood with two friends on the banks of the Brazos River in Freeport, near where the 800-mile river empties into the Gulf of Mexico. It was the stretch of the Brazos where Dow, one of the world’s biggest chemical companies, releases wastewater from its massive local complex. Stewart and her friends—one a Dow electrician—looked down at the green water flowing by and threw in a log.

The group was conducting a citizen science experiment to see where Dow’s wastewater traveled after entering the Brazos. The ad hoc investigators followed their log to an inlet of Galveston Bay—a tremendously productive, biodiverse habitat of oyster reefs and marshes that provides a nursery for the Gulf’s marine life.

Dow, one of the Texas Gulf Coast’s biggest industrial water polluters, according to wastewater permit data, was drawn to Freeport in 1940 by its deepwater port and abundant oyster reefs. The company used oyster shells to extract magnesium from seawater, sending the mineral to factories building airplanes for use in World War II. But by the early 1970s, the same reefs that attracted Dow were being threatened by pollution."

Delger Erdenesanaa reports for the Texas Observer August 14, 2023.

Source: Texas Observer, 08/15/2023