Bay Area officials, neighbors fear more flooding, oil leaks after Hurricane Harvey
When Magellan Midstream Partners, a company specializing in oil storage and transportation, proposed building 58 hydrocarbon tankards near the intersection of Clear Lake City Boulevard and Hwy. 3 this summer, residents and politicians expressed hesitation.
“I know there is a place and a need for tank farms, but right in the middle of a couple of big subdivisions is not one of them,” Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman said. “There is plenty of land around in more of an industrial setting where they would be much more appropriate.”
Magellan officials said they are considering several locations in east Houston but did not respond to additional requests for comment.
The tankards would sit on private property, meaning the government cannot interfere with Magellan purchasing the land, which it has not done yet, Houston City Council Member Dave Martin said.
The government does have some say in the tankards’ construction, though; Magellan needs a permit from City Council to build, Martin said.
“I am vehemently opposed to this proposal as public safety is extremely important to me. I will not support any development that would jeopardize the quality of life or negatively impact the economy,” Martin said.
If the city were to approve the permits there are still measures that could prevent the company from building the tankards in that space. The county would have to make sure the tankards are up to drainage code, which has become more strict after Hurricane Harvey, Morman said.
“I hope that Magellan heard everyone loud and clear that this is not something we want or need in our backyard,” he said.
The company may run into trouble living up to the county’s drainage standards. Magellan tankards leaked during Hurricane Harvey, said Adrian Garcia, candidate for Harris County Precinct 2 commissioner.
Increased development can lead to more flooding in surrounding areas, he said.
“It boggles the mind that a company like this would think actively to put such a tank farm so close to a residential community,” Garcia said.
The potential to flood is one of the main concerns for those who live nearby, Clear Lake resident Greg Alliger said.
“I think a lot of issues we have stem from post-Harvey fears,” he said.
CLASH OF VALUES
Flooding is not the only fear with the tankards. Bob Mitchell, President of Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, is concerned with how close the tankards would be to Ellington Airport.
“A good third of those tanks are in the flight path at Ellington Field on the longest landing strip,” Mitchell said. “It’s a complete safety hazard.”
The tankards do not align with BAHEP’s goal to present Clear Lake as a hub for technology, space travel and innovation, he said.
“The bottom line is that there are particular regions in the area that focus on storage facilities, but this is not the area,” Mitchell said. “Storage tanks do not depict innovation.”
Mitchell and elected officials said there are other areas in Houston where the tankards could be placed that are not close to the airport or residential areas. Alliger believes the tankards do not represent the face of Clear Lake regardless of where they are placed.
“To me the future of Houston has to be beyond oil,” Alliger said. “Just on that level, I would rather them not be built here at all.”